Survey: Should Fixed-Gear Bikes Be Allowed on the Road?

All the cool kids are riding them: fixed-gear bikes, or "fixies." They have no brakes or freewheel; you stop by fighting with the pedals or doing a skid stop. Going down hills, your feet are spinning as fast as 150 RPM. They started with couriers, but like courier bags, they are finding their way into the mainstream, complete with pretty new websites. Even a crazed TreeHugger contributor rides one, albeit with an added front brake.

They are also dangerous and in many places, illegal. And when we as a society are trying to promote biking as a healthy, active alternative to driving, every time a bicyclist gets killed, it sets back the movement. Every time a kid gets it, moms are going to drive more and keep the kids off bikes. We need bike lanes, safer routes and better educated drivers, but surely don't we also need safer bikes with brakes?

UPDATE: In the last two weeks I have learned a great deal about the subject from readers, have learned the difference between riding a fixed gear bike with or without brakes, and apologise to readers for confusing the issue. I continue to get comments calling it "an incredibly poorly written and poorly researched piece of yellow journalism" when it was a survey, not an article, and for surveys I am asking a question, not presenting a point of view. In this case it looks like I was presenting a point of view and that was not the intent. I will do the research and try one out as soon as the ice is off the road.

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