URBANA — A new controversial law bans the use of most fixed gear bicycles popularly known as ‘fixies'. The controversial ordinance was signed by Mayor Laurel Prussing Monday afternoon and it becomes effective immediately.
The law requires that bicycles be equipped with a hand operated brake or coaster brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on clean, dry pavement. They also ban fixed cogs as these also are considered dangerous to those who are working on them. All bikes used and sold in the City of Urbana will have to have a working freewheel or a coaster brake.
The citation if a cyclist is caught would be $250. Urbana police will be on the lookout for these bicycles and will also confiscate those bikes till they can be made to meet the requirements of the ordinance.
"This law will go a long way to control all the unsafe biking that is occurring in our city," local resident Mildred Cotter said. " I almost got run over by those darn bicycles."
Local riders are shocked and were surprised by the new ordinance. "This totally sucks," says local rider Emily Hampsten. "I just got my bike, and now I have to buy brakes?" Vince Nashbar stated he wouldn't have signed a lease for next year and would have moved to Champaign if he would have known this was coming. "There was no publicity regarding this beforehand," Nashbar said.
Mechanics at the Bike Project co-op in Urbana still feel they will get the occasional fixie rider from Champaign or true renegades who live in Urbana. "If you outlaw fixies, then only outlaws will ride fixies," Michael Cogsworth said. "However, we are going to have to order quite a few more freewheels." Cogsworth added.
Fellow Bike Project member Tony Holland said that he was never comfortable with the fixed gear scene. "I like to day dream too much to ride one of those fixed gear bikes, I would probably crash hard."
According to sources, a campaign of civil dissent is planned at the next Critical Mass, April 24, which meets at the southeast corner of Green and Wright (near the Alma Mater) in Urbana at 5:15 p.m., and leaves a few minutes later.
Happy April Fool's Day from Smile Politely.