Dear Editor:

It is absurd and arrogant for a bicyclist who advocates riding without a brake to admonish drivers to share the road ("Ghost Bikes," CHP, Nov. 20).

Conspicuously missing from Toan Do’s complaint about drivers’ "utter ignorance for bikers" are selfish cyclists who endanger everyone else –pedestrians, drivers, and fellow bikers– by ignoring basic rules like stopping at stop signs, using lights at night, and in Do’s case, using a brake. In his complaint about recent car-bike accidents and deaths Do also failed to note that SF State freshman Lucien Gregg [1] was killed last January in an accident with a van on East Cliff Drive while riding a fixie purist style: brakeless and without a helmet [2]. While nobody can say whether or not Gregg could have saved his life with brakes, physics dictates that two or even one set of brakes clamped around a rim will stop a bike quicker than a backpedal or skid stop, which is why brakes were invented and are required by law. The

California Vehicle Code section 21201 (a) that says, "No person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it is equipped with a brake [3]" is not the fist of a police state bent on taking away Do’s "utter joy" of biking. It is a social contract for mutual safety. Accidents happen because people break it.

Automakers profiled SUV drivers to shape SUV ads. They found that SUV drivers like the feeling of superiority they get from being elevated in a big vehicle and drive more aggressively than others [4]. A similar antisocial bent exists among many fixie purists who think it is cool to emulate the supposedly macho messengers who started the trend [5]. In citing his "love for the…adrenaline that comes with riding fixed-gear bikes" Do confuses public streets with a racetrack. Do has no right to endanger others in the public commons by inconsiderately forcing them to participate in an extreme sport. Brakeless fixies belong at events with athletes who choose to be there, not on streets shared by elderly, kids, and others simply going from point A to B.

I’m all for the joy of biking, which is why I biked solo from Maryland to Santa Cruz after finishing high school and regularly bike in town. But whether I am walking, biking, or driving, I will never share the road with a biker without a brake, nor will I heed a traffic scofflaw who has the audacity to tell me to drive safely. We cyclists have enough problems advocating for safety without fakengers bullying the scene. Put a brake on your fixie or get off our streets.


Nigel Self