Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Autonomy Is a World of Difference"...*

From the Already Out There Elsewhere But Bears Repeating Dept:

In what could become a precedent for other cities, the DC Department of Transportation recently published a Notice of Final Rulemaking in the DC Register amending the law regarding (among other things) brakes on bicycles.

Of particular interest is the sui generis stipulation that a fixed gear bicycle operating in the District is not required to have a handbrake, provided it can be stopped using the pedals (huh, that last bit is a clever idea). For the link-lazy, here’s the relevant subsection (never mind the grammar), verbatim:
    1204.1 Each bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which enables the operator to cause the braked wheels to skid on dry, level, clean pavement; provided, that a fixed gear bicycle is not required to have a separate brake, but an operator of a fixed gear bicycle shall be able to stop the bicycle using the pedals.
Apparently, the seemingly overworked and understaffed Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA, foo'!) cadre played a big part in convincing city lawmakers to think rationally on this one. Regardless of where you stand on the brake/no-brake fixie issue (me, I'm just smart enough to know that I'm dumb enough to need one), the important thing is that now you have the right to make that decision without some mindless minion of Power making it for you. Small victory in the grand scheme of things? Maybe. But in the symbolic realm it's nothing short of a miracle.

So, on to the shameless shill: if you live in the DC metropolitan area and you care about biking issues and you want a stronger voice against the motorized majority and others who would restrict your right to safely enjoy the self-propelled life, skip a night out at the pub and become a member of WABA. As Barabbas said when asked about how he could live with the metaphysical ramifications of a certain physical substitution, "It's really quite fucking easy."

“People have been standing for centuries before a worm-eaten door, making pinholes in it with increasing ease. The time has come to kick it down, for it is only on the other side that everything begins.”
— Raoul Vaneigem, Traité de savoir-faire à l'usage des jeunes générations

PS: WABA also has a quick yes/no/duh survey that you can take regarding mandatory helmet laws. Curiously, WABA has yet to take a stand on this issue that so closely parallels the one about bike handbrakes. Perhaps your duly-noted opinion will make a difference in how this matter plays out going forward.

* "Back to Base", Fugazi, Red Medicine


gwadzilla said...

we need laws to protect cyclists
not to punish them

in short...
I would hope that they spend time enforcing the "hands free cell phone law" before they get into the cyclists and there helmetless or brakeless way of being

iconoclasst said...

Agreed, though there's some merit behind the idea that simply talking on the phone while driving, regardless of whether one is physically holding the phone, is the true culprit in accidents of distraction.

People focus on the call and not on the environment around them. I've seen this several times, drivers on the phone who look right through me as they pull out, mind several miles away with the party on the other end.