And I thought I was done with nitwits for awhile…

A judge in [tag]Oregon[/tag] has declared that [tag]fixed gear bikes[/tag], what we used to call single speeds when I was a kid, are illegal unless outfitted with caliper brakes.

You can read the whole story and parts of the transcript of the trial here.

All I can say is, well, wow.  I’m used to non-cyclists being ignorant and downright hostile to bike riders.  Back when I lived in San Francisco and would ride my bike pretty much all over the city it was common for people to honk at me for nothing more than riding a bike.  I even had an SFPD officer once tell me that I wasn’t allowed to ride in the street.  I politely pointed out to him that he ought to read his vehicle code more closely.  Not only is a cyclist allowed to ride in the street, he/she is forbidden from riding on the sidewalk.  Fortunately for me this cop was a friendly sort and actually thanked me for enlightening him, and even laughed at himself when he realized how obviously hazardous a bike on the sidewalk is to pedestrians.

Just a month or so ago while commuting home from work on my bike I was honked at by a very hostile woman in Walnut Creek.  She honked and shouted at me to get out of the road as she sped past me.  I hadn’t done this is years but I was ticked off and raced after her.  Since cars get stuck in traffic and bikes do not I caught up with her easily and gave her a piece of my mind and a rather loud education about the rights of cyclists and the responsibilities of motorists on the road.  The best part was her astonishment that I’d caught up to her, which was actually quite easy to do.

Hostility toward bicyclists from motorists is a funny thing.   It’s not as if a bike, riding at the side of the road, impedes the progress of a car.  And in the larger sense of things if more people cycled and fewer drove the world would be a much nicer place – less polution, less traffic and probably a vastly improved social attitude throughout the country.  People who drive are prone to agression because they lose patience with traffic.  Put them all on bikes and their excuse for losing their cool goes away.

What I put it all down to is that car drivers have a misplaced sense of some kind of ownership of the roads.  They get equally pissed off at pedestrians who are, heaven forbid, trying to cross the street.  I’ve even seen motorists shout obscenities at children playing in the street in front of their houses (not in my neighborhood, thankfully though).

Once again, when the fossil fuels all dry up we cyclists will have the last laugh.  That is until our tires blow out and we can’t get any new tubes or the roads need repaving and there isn’t any asphalt.

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