Monday, November 30, 2009

Ban bikes without brakes, or cars that can go 100 MPH

There is a law being proposed in Philadelphia that would allow the confiscation of bikes without brakes. To the layman, a bike without a brake seems ludicrous - how do you stop? But a fixed gear bike in effect has a brake called "your legs" and by that I don't mean Fred Flintstoning it. Granted if you aren't very good at it, or your bottom bracket brakes, you're screwed. This applies to cars as well, and for all the rhetoric the relative risk posed by fixie riders is nominal.

Meanwhile, in the last two weeks the Bay Area has seen two incidents where a motorist killed other people while driving at a reckless speed. In Menlo Park , someone ran a stop sign at 70 MPH plus and killed a 6 year old girl. In Sonoma a mini-cooper going 100 MPH resulted in the death of 4 people in the car he hit - and the driver of the cooper.

70 MPH is way out of line on Bayfront in Menlo, but 100 MPH is beyond the speed limit in the entire US. Yes - even in Montana. If it's illegal to drive a car that fast - why allow those cars to exist? I know some people will drive their cars on the track and are allowed to go who knows what speed there - but that is by far the exception and not the rule.


BikeBoy said...

In my youth, I would have dismissed any notion of speed-limiting as unwarranted government intrusion on my right to go as freakin' fast as I could get away with (whether I actually drove that fast or not).

However, it seems that the older I get, the more I come to appreciate the argument that society should impose reasonable limits on those without the self-control to impose those limits on themselves. I'd be perfectly happy to have a 70mph speed limiter on my car, if I knew everyone else had one too.

The problem, of course, is that the idiots who would drive 200 mph if they could, will likely drive their now-speed-limited car maxed out at 70 mph in a school zone, or a neighborhood.

Sadly, there's just not a good way to mandate the use of common sense.

djconnel said...

CA VC406 already mandates speed-limited motors on hybrid-electric bicycles. Without such a limiter, it qualifies as a motor vehicle and not as a "bicycle":

(b) A "motorized bicycle" is also a device that has fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power and has an electric motor that meets all of the following requirements:

(1) Has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts.

(2) Is incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on ground level...

So there it is. The law already recognizes that a motor capable of exceeding a certain threshold of speed requires additional privileges to operate. How would it be extraordinary to mandate that there exists an additional threshold beyond which even loftier privileges (such as being a police officer) would be required?