Friday, September 12, 2008

The Friday Fix: Fixed Gear riding is Sub-rural-urbia?

Friend of mine dropped off the Sunday Perspectives section from the Danbury Newstimes and there was an interesting article about fixed gear riding called Brakeless bikes have some riders throwing caution to the wind.  I found the original article from the Chicago Tribune:
No brakes, and they like it. by Megan Twohey.

The point of the article is that people in Chicago feel that the growing trend of young "hipster" riders taking up cycling with fixed gear bikes and no brakes poses a hazard to the public and themselves.

While some cyclists say experienced riders are capable of safely handling these bikes, others insist no one should ride one on a public street. Critics say the bikes create potentially dangerous conditions at a time when cycling is on the rise.

"There's no way that someone could go out on the streets and ride safely without brakes," said Aram Bayzaee of Northbrook, who races a brakeless fixed-gear bike on an outdoor velodrome track.

Critics are particularly contemptuous of wannabe bike messengers they say are wiping out, flying through red lights and crashing into people.

"They're a public safety hazard," said Andrew Floyd, 31, of Chicago, a longtime cyclist who has ridden a fixed-gear bike without brakes on the street for years.
While this might be the case in cities like Chicago, New York, and even little old New Haven or Hartford, but Danbury?  How many fixed gear riders are in Danbury, CT (besides myself) are there?  I once saw two kids riding fixed gear bikes with no brakes on Mill Plain Rd near Trader Joes.  Figured they were just visiting from NYC because they were riding towards Brewster (fastest, most direct way to and from NYC).  There is the Western Connecticut College Campus but the West Campus is kind of isolated from the rest of the City and you really don't see a lot on the local streets.  The downtown campus is pretty small and is serviced by bus from the larger campus.

Other than that, I have yet to see another fixed gear rider around here.  I know of one other, my friend Pete who blogs on iBike but he lives in Wilton and not included in what I call Sub-rural-urbia.  And if you are wondering what I call Sub-rural-urbia, it's all the municipalities that make up the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials (HVCEO)Council of Governments of the Central Naugatuck Valley (COGCNV), Litchfield Hills and Northwestern Connecticut.  Basically what used to be a major farming region of Connecticut that now has become a rural suburb of Cities like Danbury, Norwalk, Stamford, New Haven, Hartford, Westchester County, and New York City.  

I did see someone riding a fixed gear on Memorial Day down in New Canaan, without brakes even, helmetless and wearing a messenger bag but that part of Fairfield County is often lumped into New York, anyway, so it's no shock.  I know that I am generalizing but in my experience, most people in Hartford and beyond feel that way, anyway.

Is this article in the Newstimes Perspectives supposed to stir up controversy where there is none?  Clearly there are more people out riding but how many are riding fixed gear?  Personally, riding fixed gear around Sub-rural-urbia is suicide without at least one brake.  I ride with two because I am still new at the game but I have considered that the next build might only sport one brake. 


29ner said...

I am stoked that your loving Direct Drive.. Keep spreading the word. How is the light system? I am charging my Niterider Trail Rat ( alsmost 6 years old and still works perfect. But the battery is about 2lbs and half the sixe of a Brick. Thinking about getting LED light. Any thoughts ?

Mark said...

I was a little surprised that mine only had a 30 min burn time but I was using it for the first time and probably didn't have a good charge.

Yeah, direct drive is awesome. Next week, I am going back fixed gear commuting now that I have a few good homeward routes figured out.

Anonymous said...

I ride a fixed gear, no breaks. Live in Simsbury CT right on Rails to Trails. Take a 25 mile ride from Simsbury to LaSalle market in Collinsville CT every permitting. BUILD ONE!