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Berlin Bans Brakeless Bikes

Not long ago, cycling enthusiasts took fixed-gear racing bikes out of velodromes and onto the streets, where they were a hit among bike messengers and hardcore urban cyclists. The appeal had to do with the stripped-down simplicity of the bikes. A skillful rider could bring a “fixie” to a stop just by resisting the forward rotation of the pedals, which eliminated the need for hand brakes. In some circles, fixie became a byword for hipness in modern urban life. Then the bikes edged into the mainstream, and that’s when the trouble started — in Berlin, at least. Police, citing safety concerns, have started a crackdown on fixies. Considering, as Jonah Berger writes, that “cultural groups abandon a taste when outsiders adopt them,” will the fixie crackdown, by stunting the growth of the trend, only reinforce the bikes’ street cred among the faithful? [%comments]