I’m a sucker for the simpler things in life; the way they used to be, even if it may be more difficult or tedious than the “newer” ways. I choose to only buy cars with manual transmissions, I’d buy an over/under shotgun before some auto-loader, I’d much rather build a fire from wood than flip a switch to turn on the fireplace, the list goes on. There’s a certain feeling of power and accomplishment that comes from doing things the way they were once done and I seek that in many of the things I love in life.
But not in bicycles. I focus my hate on a single bike, namely the loathsome “fixed-gear” bike that is hugely popular now with the wannabe bike messenger set and teenage hipsters who wear skinny jeans and listen to The Shins. The bikes look like a classic “10-speed” but with only one gear and typically no brakes, whatsoever. Some riders install a front brake but they’re probably dealt with quickly as fixie-justice is likely served against the weak fixie rider as they are beaten with socks filled with bars of soap or maybe the other 9 gears taken off the bike. I mean, what hardcore skater wears a helmet or surfer uses a leash? Pussies.
See, when bicycles were first invented it appears that the concept of a brake was foreign. Bikes had a single gear and no freewheel to allow the user to coast along; the pedals were always moving in the direction you were traveling at the same speed you were traveling. Bikes have evolved because that design was stupid and dangerous. It was an evolution based on necessity, not vanity nor laziness.
Now, there’s a revival of the fixed gear bicycle and it makes no sense to me. It’s not like choosing a manual transmission, which offers the driver a much more exciting and “in control” driving experience, it’s just downright silly. Here in Huntington, you see them EVERYWHERE. They’re not hard to miss: bright, horribly mismatched colors, strange handlebars and wheels/spokes, many times grossly over-sized for the person riding it.
My biggest gripe are the safety aspects–or lack thereof–typical with these bikes. See, they have no brakes (most of them, at least). No hand brakes, no pushing back lightly on the pedal to stop, nothing. So when you need to stop you’re on your own. And that’s fine if there’s nobody around or nothing in your way…but when you’re riding down the street and a car pulls out (hopefully to try and hit the dumbass riding the bike) how are you supposed to stop? Think of these bikes as runaway mine cars in an Indiana Jones movie: out of control.
Teens buy these bikes because they are cool; they’re rebellious. In most cities, it’s illegal to ride a bike without a brake, and that right there is enough to risk life and limb so you can give the police and establishment a big old “F U” as you ride by. The sky is the limit, too, on what you spend. In higher income areas like Orange County you’re guaranteed to see stupid looking bikes ride by you that cost more than your first car.
I write this because of an incident that happened last week. I’m leaving the bank and headed towards the light to make a right hand turn onto Edinger Ave (a pretty busy street) and I’m about 20 yards from the light when it turns green. Cars start off the line and I keep moving towards the signal when out of nowhere this dipshit wearing skinny-jeans, a beanie and flannel shirt waving in the breeze comes flying through the intersection on his fixed-gear as 2 cars slam on their brakes and he swerves into the intersection to avoid getting hit. What had happened was he was hauling ass to try and make it through the light and it turned red before he got there and he had no way of stopping. So, he continued into the intersection and is lucky I was as far back as I was and that the people coming off the line didn’t have drag racer reflexes, else he and his bike would have been in a world of hurt.
I wish someone would have hit him. Yeah, I said it and I mean it. He’s gonna do it again and again until he gets hit so better to have him learn the lesson before he causes a crash.
[Note: GD…why does that photo have to be photoshopped? It could have ended the fixie craze forever…]
So let this be a lesson to you. If you plan on riding a fixed gear bike and you plan on running a red light and I’m coming at you, I’m not stopping. Oh and I’ll be making fun of your friends at Yogurtland.