Thursday, July 2, 2009

Berlin has NOT banned fixies

Everybody has been all a twitter this week about Berlin's "fixie ban." Even Freakanomics picked up on this story with a sensational headline.

German bike blogs like Rad Spannerei have reported that police in several major cities have been cracking down on brakeless fixies all over Germany, including in Berlin, as police have started to notice brakeless fixies in larger numbers, and the Polizei are tasked with maintaining Germany's reputation as a law and order society.

The "ban" on brakeless bikes in Germany is not new, although the crackdown is relatively recent -- I think it probably began about a year ago? Bikes in Germany must be equipped with brakes; although coaster brakes are common in Europe, the German police apparently don't agree with the claim that you stop the bike by backpedaling is the same as a coaster brake.


  1. Police in Sacramento have been doing this for the past six months. Which sucks, since it's otherwise a pretty bike-friendly city. Unfortunately the hipsters were drawing a bit too much attention to themselves...

  2. Backpedaling is a lot different than a coaster brake - not in how you brake but in when you brake. With a fixie, you are more likely to find a way to avoid braking which results in running stops.

    What about the riders that drag a foot on the wheel to brake? Is /that/ considered sufficient braking? :D

  3. The German law is that each wheel must have a brake...with the fixed cog and chain qualifying as the rear brake (the German polizei GET IT, unlike Portland/SF). The real problem here is that many of the riders being stopped are without front brakes.