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Ventura county shuts trails and bike paths to any bike without brakes

California’s Ventura County has banned fixed-wheel bikes from trails and bike paths.

A hit-and-run crash between two riders on the Ojai Valley Trail  in September left one with severe injuries. The other fled the scene but was reported by parks director Ron Van Dyck to be riding a bike with no brakes at high speed.

Park officials therefore pushed for a ban on fixed-wheel bikes, which are sometimes ridden without brakes. 

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the ban on Tuesday, according to the Ventura County Star.

It’s not the first time brakeless fixies have been a target of local law. In 2006 Portland, Oregon bike messenger Ayla Holland was stopped for riding a brakeless fixie, and subsequently fined.

In a similar later case in Portland, the rider managed to argue that the transmission constituted a braking mechanism and escaped a fine, but for a while some Portland police were believed to be deliberately targetting riders of brakeless fixies.

In 2010, Australian bike shops were threatened with fines of up to AUD1.1 million for selling fixies without two brakes.

In the UK, the law is straightforward. The Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983 say that a fixed wheel bike has to have a front brake, and regular bikes with freewheels have to have two independent braking systems, one of which operates on the front wheel.

We haven’t been able to find any cases of someone being fined in the UK for riding a brakeless fixie.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.