On March 29, San Francisco web entrepreneur Chris Bucchere was returning from a group cycling ride when he struck and killed a 71-year-old pedestrian while "bombing" his bicycle down Castro street and through a crowded crosswalk—at 35 MPH, according to his STRAVA app. "In a nutshell, blammo," is how Bucchere described the incident in a (since deleted) posting to the Mission Cycling Club website. While he noted a "RIVER of blood" from his victim, Bucchere ended his post with a jovial ode to his own "late helmet." As Bucchere tries to scrub his online identity, including posts about fixed-gear bikes, some cyclists are questioning whether riding a fixed-gear bike without brakes may have contributed to the accident.
Does your fixed-gear bicycle have too many moving parts? Well, have I got the solution for you!
I like watching videos of people riding fixed gear bikes in the city: Empire, MashSF, Macaframa, Fast Friday, Bootleg Sessions, Lucas Brunelle's crazy vids (linked on MeFi before). Don't like videos? Try Fixed Gear Magazine (pdf of vol 1 and vol 2) or CogMag (dead tree mag, but excerpts from each issue are on their site).
Who needs to coast? With a fixed gear bicycle, you can't. Not to be confused with single-speeds or multi-gear derailers, this minimalist setup is used in track racing, including Japan's Keirin. Messengers and others ride track bikes on the street (sometimes illegally without a brake): the simplicity means there's less to brake or be stolen. Not all fixies are tracks bikes though, with conversions often more focused on utility and comfort than speed. (Perfect for the commute!) They're great in the winter and offroad, too. You can make your own (you just need horizontal dropouts) and then learn some special techniques.