When i read this article this morning i was pretty shocked… The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission are handing out mega $1,000,000 fines to bike shops selling brake-less bikes?! $1,000,000!!!! This isn’t even one of those things that you just read about and isn’t being enforced… they’ve already done over a wholesaler for selling Surly Steamrollers without brakes and not only that, they’re encouraging people to name drop other shops/retailers that are doing the same thing.
The ACCC have sent out warnings such as… ”pedestrians and other bike riders are… at risk of serious injury or death if someone riding a fixed-gear bike loses control and collides with them”… i can’t even fathom a reply to this statement! The amount of times that i’ve nearly been taken off by some knobend riding the pavements and then just deciding that he wants to come onto the road directly in front of me!
From what i’ve read/been told, i understand that U.K road laws say that you need 2 independent brakes… one being the fixed wheel and one being a front brake. Yes, i am riding brakeless, but this doesn’t mean i’m any less in control of my bike than someone with 2 brakes. I’ve noticed that in the past 6 months of commuting every weekday, i’ve become a lot more wary of traffic/pedestrians (mainly because they’re not wary of me, but that’s beside the point). I feel that i’ve become a lot more of a competent cyclist thanks to the fact that i’ve got to judge my speed a lot more than i would if i had brakes and a freewheel and think about what could potentially pull out on me from every side street so that, just in case, i have to slam on.
To fine a shop $1,000,000 for selling brake-less bikes seems to me like someone’s going hugely over the top! Considering Australia went through some stuff a while ago and got branded “anti-bicycle”… since then they’ve tried to change this view on them. I can safely say that by fining a cycle merchant the same amount as this, will definitely set you back into the “anti-bicycle” zone i’m afraid.
I suppose the best way to satisfy the law would be for the cycle shop to just install a cheap front brake onto the bike and then allow the customer to remove it with ease if he/she wished to do so at a later date, but i will say that if you’re going to take the step into riding brakeless fixed, then you’re going to have to accept the risks involved with it, and make sure that you’re comfortable without using the brake for a bit beforehand (this is what i did, and it seemed to work really well).
I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of the law. I haven’t been riding that long, and i’m not pretending to be an authority on this, but a $1,000,000 fine seems a bit too steep in my eyes plus i want to see what other peoples reactions are.
Image via Fukukichi