by: Will Slater
Let me start off by saying that I love hipsters and what they’ve contributed to our society over the last decade. My neighborhood now has at least ten craft beer tap rooms within walking distance of my house. I can purchase mustache wax, fried chicken and artisan doughnuts all at the same location. Hipsters are partially responsible for the transformation and revitalization of my zip code which had been largely ignored since the 1970’s. When I see a pork pie hat and neck tattoos I want to know where they’re going for lunch so I can discover yet another underground Korean BBQ place or gourmet hot dog stand.
What confuses me about hipsters is their love of the “Fixie” or fixed gear bicycle. These bicycles usually only have a single gear. Many of them don’t have brakes and I’m sure you’ve seen the ridiculous gyrations required to keep them upright at a stop sign or stop light. Brakes are important especially on a bicycle that’s darting back and forth between cars in heavy traffic. Instead of hand brakes they use a method called “Skid Stopping” and there are plenty of YouTube videos that explain how it can be achieved. Now I’m going to explain how hand brakes on an 18 speed bicycle work… you squeeze them and you stop… no YouTube video required.
They have bicycle races at the velodrome near my house complete with food trucks; yet another reason I love hipsters. I’ve taken the time to ask a few of my friends that ride there why they love the “Fixie” so much? They’ve told me that it is the purest experience you can have on a bicycle and the most efficient way to travel. They remove the brakes because it makes the bike lighter and more maneuverable and best of all “It looks cooler.” I then ask the question that annoys them the most… “What about safety and stopping?” They explain that anyone that rides a “Fixie” shouldn’t do it unless they’ve mastered balancing at a stop sign and stopping through skidding. Well I guess I’m not adventurous enough for this because I like the brakes on my 3 speed English Racer. I also like wearing a helmet and I can’t balance at a stop light. I know part of the attraction is that only a select few are capable of handling a “Fixie” but they sure don’t coexist well with traffic congestion.
There’s no recreational sport more dangerous than cycling on city streets. Over 50,000 cyclists in the U.S. are injured each year in accidents with motor vehicles. Sorry to be a “Debbie Downer” but bicycle fatalities have risen by over 8 percent since 2011. Some would argue that we need safer roads for cyclists. Yes, it’s true we do need safer roads but why would you want to stack the odds against yourself by removing your brakes and riding without a helmet? Save your “Fixie” for the Velodrome or put some brakes on it… please. You can be adventurous by putting some extra Sriracha sauce on your pulled pork slider or not using your honey and aloe infused beard softener for a week. The “Fixie” is no longer an underground club if I know about it and we need all the hipsters we can get in this world. Where I am going to get my mango and green tea ice cream? Who’s going to lecture me on what Infinite Jest is about? Hipsters we love you but put some brakes on that bike before you take it to your next Critical Mass ride downtown.
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