Police warn about ‘kamikaze bike’
31 March, 2010 - 16:17
Today, the Amsterdam police issued a press release to warn about the rising popularity of fixed gear ‘kamikaze’ bicycles without gear or freewheel. They contacted a seller of such bicycles to warn him that he may be violating the law. In May, an exhibition on fixed gear culture will open at Mediamatic.
So far, no accidents involving fixed gears have been reported to the police, a spokesperson says, but ‘they’re bound to happen’. “They need 20, 30 or 40 meters to brake, in the city there simply isn’t room for that.”
The police warning was prompted by a television show (item starts at 15:50) last night, featuring Gijs van Amelsvoort, the owner of a shop in Amsterdam selling fixed gears. In a way, the police were pleased that the report contains footage of him falling. “At least, they show the risks involved.”
Last year, Swiss media reported that sales of fixed gear bicycles dropped after having been targeted in large-scale police surveillance operations. In Switzerland, cyclists without brakes may be fined up to 500 Franks (350 euro), ten times as much as in the Netherlands.
The Amsterdam police contacted Van Amelsvoort to warn him that he may be violating the law if he sells bicycles for use on the public road without at least two brakes. However, Van Amelsvoort says that he sells all his fixed gears with brakes; only experienced users may choose to buy them without.
“They make a lot of fuss about this, but really there isn’t much of a problem. I’ve never heard about serious accidents in Amsterdam involving fixed gears. Someone who knows what he’s doing can control such a bike perfectly,” Van Amelsvoort said. “But I understand their concern. As more inexperienced users start riding fixed gears, things may get more dangerous.”
Van Amelsvoort is involved in the preparation of Sur Place, an exhibition on urban bike culture at Mediamatic. Among other things, he is collecting portraits of ‘diehards who crashed hard and have the scars to prove it’.