Darn Fixies!

Today I saw a guy riding his pretty fixie with lime green wheels and white frame. He had the stereotypical cut off tight jeans, black shirt and a cap(backwards) wearing his vans with no socks.

As I watched him, I already knew that he would be zipping in and out of traffic as if he was in NYC delivering packages. But no, we were in Southern California. So the rider takes a lane, cuts cars off and runs a red light. I rolled my eyes and said, “figures.”

I hate to admit this, but I’m really starting to resent some fixie riders. There’s a good number of them that are law abiding, but there’s also a bunch of them that put a bad taste in other people’s mouths. Here’s what I mean by that. After getting home my daughter and I went for a bike ride to the park on her new KHS Hot Rod. I ran across 3 fixie riders on the road, and guess what? They were polite, obeyed the rules and they stopped for the light. But because of the lime green fixie rider, I already expected the 3 fixie riders to behave just like the first rider…

This didn’t just happen with that lime green guy, but it has happened numerous times with other fixie rides that we come across in Fullerton or any other city in Orange County.

Now I’m wondering if fixie riders in other parts of the US behave the same way? Do they ride like idiots in your neighborhood?


36 Comments

  1. Donald February 7, 2010 5:36 pm 

    Sounds like you’re giving in to “confirmation bias”.

    There are quite a few bad fixie riders around here (Tampa), and there are quite a few bad mountain bike riders (who clearly don’t know the law or don’t care), and there are quite a few bad road/group riders (who think that laws don’t apply to packs of bikes), and there are quite a few (hundreds of thousands) motorists around here who are terrible drivers.

    But the proportion of “bad” fixie riders doesn’t seem to be much worse than the other categories. They just sometimes seem that way because they have a counter-culture aura about them in general.

  2. Jarod February 7, 2010 6:39 pm 

    I can’t comment about ‘other parts of the US’, but here in Australia (Sydney) fixie riders are 100% as you described them.

    But as Donald suggests, I wouldn’t say that the percentage of bad fixie riders is worse than any other category of cyclist.

  3. Stan February 7, 2010 7:07 pm 

    Hopefully the hipsters-on-fixies trend dies a quick death. The polite fixie riders have likely been riding for a long time. The annoying ones are just trend-followers who needed a new fashion accessory.

  4. Iron_Man February 7, 2010 7:11 pm 

    Yeah, they are doing the same thing here in the epicenter of hipster style; Springfield Missouri. Fixies don’t corner the market on running reds, but they are the most aggressive when it comes to riding through traffic.

  5. Ghost Rider February 7, 2010 7:22 pm 

    I’m with the rest of these guys — the fixed-gear riders are no better or worse than the rest of the knuckleheads I see flouting the road laws here in Tampa. I must admit that I cringe when I see helmetless, brakeless riders who obviously need some more saddle time before they hit the streets, though. With such a machine comes the need for some pretty amazing cycling skillz, and some of these kids just don’t have it.

    It can be said that such law-breakers give so-called “serious” cyclists a bad name in the eyes of motorists; while that may be true, it’s better for us to strive that much harder to be ambassadors of the Share the Road movement. I wave and smile at almost everyone I see out there — I learned it from my buddy Alan (who has won awards for his cycling ambassadorial skills).

  6. BluesCat February 7, 2010 7:29 pm 

    I’ve thought and I’ve thought, but it has been months since I’ve seen a fixie rider in Phoenix. Most bikes are mountain-bikes-turned-commuters like my Giant Yukon, The Roadley; next come double-chainring road bikes; after that are neighborhood kids riding and jumping their BMX bikes out in the street in front of their houses; then come a mixture of derailleured hybrids and Single-,3- and 5-speed cruisers; last come just a handful of recumbents like my EZ Sport.

    Could it be that the horrible Snowbird (winter visitor) motorists in Arizona have driven the fixie riders into extinction?

  7. ClintonRH February 7, 2010 8:35 pm 

    Helmetless, brakeless, barely in control. Yeah I see it. Amazes me that they don’t routinely get in serious life-threatening trouble. My fixed is a lot of fun, it’s twitchy, loves to jump around, and it just feels like it wants to go fast, but I run two brakes (I’d feel fine with just a front but I like having the hoods as a hand position). Hell I doubt I’d ever be mistaken as a hipster. Usually I’m wearing MTB shorts (maybe jeans or knakis but never spandex tight denim) and my bike has lights and reflective tape (discrete but highly effective and has a much cleaner look than cheap plastic reflectors. Probably several grams less too with more reflective surface area and better side visibility). I think I want some Road Racer fenders next.
    As for traffic rules. I obey them when they makes sense. If I break them it’s because I’ll feel safer by doing so or if it just doesn’t make any sense. Sorry I’m not going to sit at a red light for several minutes to see if maybe the sensor works if there’s NO traffic. I’ll blow through a stop sign if it would have been my turn anyways if I stopped. I try to assess the situation and regulate my pace so that I don’t even have to interact with cars if I can. If it means I tap my brakes a few hundred feet before the intersection to avoid getting there at the same time as a car I will. I’d rather just let them go than have to wonder if they’ll do the right thing. Red lights I try to ‘time’ so that I don’t have to stop. If I have to stop then I’ll watch the lights and traffic. I might jump a light early if it means I can cross the intersection and not have to ‘fight’ for the lane halfway across. I’ll try and maintain the momentum when ever I can but it’s not worth chancing a wreck to save a few seconds. With the fixed/ss you just notice the momentum killers a lot more but I don’t think that’s the driving factor to your complaint. Most likely the fixie rider you saw would be a hazard to himself and every other road user if they were driving a car or using a different style bike. It’s the person more than the transportation choice. Personally I’ll take a fixie rider blowing traffic signals above a waly-world bike wobbling slowly the wrong way down a bike lane or sidewalk. I see a lot more of those here in Tampa than fixed riders.

  8. fixednotfixie February 8, 2010 12:34 am 

    policar. what gives? i’m doubting bikecommuters.com because of your post here.
    i think it’s grand you are bearing witness to your own prejudiced projections. but please dont let your resentment turn into jealousy.
    for example. i lived in orange county for a year. i now assume all young people (age under 30) in OC are plastic minded, insecure and hopelessly selfish. but what this really means is that i resent all the pretty hotties wearing tight lime green mini skirts for not giving me the time of day.

  9. Bill Baker February 8, 2010 8:24 am 

    I guess the nice thing about living in the ice and snow of Michigan is that the hipster crowd retreats to their local dive bars and coffee shops 8 months out of the year due to the fact that their spandex levi’s and no socked vans can’t handle a windchill factor of -2˚.

  10. Doug Jesseph February 8, 2010 8:48 am 

    Tampa doesn’t have anything like the number of hipstermobiles I’ve seen elsewhere, so the annoyance level is not terribly high. As Ghost Rider said, they’re probably no worse than the average cyclist here, but that’s setting the bar pretty low. I have seen a fair bit of cringe-inducing cycling by hipsters on the college campus where I teach. Most of the bad behavior is from kids who frankly have no idea how to handle a fixed gear setup. They seem to think the hipstermobile is the truly authentic way to bike, but they just don’t have the skills to maintain control at low speeds. Result: wobbly fixies meandering across campus running into pedestrians and the occasional tree.

  11. JeffS February 8, 2010 9:00 am 

    I’m really starting to resent the “better than thou” attitude of many commuters lately.

    Stop contributing to the negativity.

  12. Tom February 8, 2010 9:19 am 

    It’s not just fixies, it’s every entitled butthead on wheels. Unfortunately, I too expect the worst of the stereotypes when I see them…but more often than not, I’m proven right. There is a reason the stereotype exists, remember? I expect fixies to run lights and act like they think they’re messengers, I expect kitted-out roadies to act like snobs, I expect large SUV drivers to be either idiots or unable to drive at all. Why? Because I’ve encountered those people more frequently than the opposite and therefore built a stereotype in my head. Lame? Probably, but it is what it is.

  13. RL February 8, 2010 10:03 am 

    Jeff, I never claimed to be better than the fixie rider I saw. If it was a roadie, a guy on a mountain bike or another pannier carrying commuter doing the exact same thing I would have posted about it.

    We get people like the fixie rider I mentioned in mountain biking as well. These are the guys that leave their trash, don’t announce they are passing you on your left or right, and the kind that don’t stop when Equestrians are on the trail. When I see a mountain biker doing idiot stuff, I say something to them.

    Fixednotfixie, look at it this way. When you see a car on the road that’s all over the place, do you think its either an Asian driver or an old person behind the wheel? There’s going to times in our lives where experiences has influenced our view of things in life.

    I’m not fixie bashing here, shoot man, I have my own Fixed Gear Bike that I commute with, but I don’t carry myself as a douche bag on the road.

  14. Raiyn February 8, 2010 1:57 pm 

    Ghost pretty much echoes my position – in a far more diplomatic manner that I would have expressed it I’m sure.

    It’s a bike NOT A ƒ®ª©«€Ñ FASHION ACCESSORY! (I’ll stop now while I’m still technically within TOS)

  15. Ian February 8, 2010 2:09 pm 

    There are plenty of people who strongly dislike anyone riding a bike on the road and the more ammo they have of people acting like pretentious douchebags on bikes the harder it is for everyone else.

    I know that every time I see someone riding like an idiot it pisses me off and I am on a bike too. When that person is fixie hipster then it is just that much more annoying because everything they are doing screams “Look at me! I am better than everyone else.”

    Ride whatever you like just don’t be a douche.

  16. Ian February 8, 2010 2:10 pm 

    Those that don’t ride fixed are not jealous, envious, or resentful of those that do.

    What you ride has no effect on me and my ride. What does have an effect is how you ride.

    There are plenty of people who strongly dislike anyone riding a bike on the road and the more ammo they have of people acting like pretentious douchebags on bikes the harder it is for everyone else.

    I know that every time I see someone riding like an idiot it pisses me off and I am on a bike too. When that person is fixie hipster then it is just that much more annoying because everything they are doing screams “Look at me! I am better than everyone else.”

    Ride whatever you like just don’t be a douche.

  17. Ian February 8, 2010 2:11 pm 

    Sorry for the double post.

  18. RL Policar February 8, 2010 2:11 pm 

    Well said Ian.

    douchebaggery sucks.

  19. Raiyn February 8, 2010 2:29 pm 

    Well said indeed Ian.

  20. Baron Geoff February 9, 2010 10:06 am 

    @Raiyn; Nothing wrong with a bike being a fashion accessory; at least they are on a bike. Roadies are just as guilty of color matching, accessory matching, and wearing the ‘uniform’ of their clique (and they run lights just the same as the fixie kids).

    A jerkoff on a bike is a jerkoff on a bike plain and simple.

    I think talking about hipster fixie riders has jumped the shark more than the fixie scene it’s self.

  21. ty February 9, 2010 10:09 pm 

    Yeah, I’ve noticed that all fixed gear riders are assholes, total, complete assholes. I actually try to hit them when I drive. There are those times tho when I can’t tell if a guy is riding a conversion or a true fixie, but I figure that I shouldn’t take a chance of missing a fixie, so I’ll throw a McDonalds cup.

    Way to generalize. You got any great ones about ethnic minorities or women you want to add? This is some real BS.

  22. formerFixie February 10, 2010 12:33 am 

    Wow, pretty depressing when cyclists start using the same old worn-out complaints as motorists do against cyclists in general. You sound jealous and bitter. Why don’t you lighten up and worry about yourself rather than the fashion and riding habits of cyclists.

  23. fixiesRbikes2 February 10, 2010 12:45 am 

    Today I saw a guy riding his pretty BICYCLE with lime green wheels and white frame. He had the stereotypical [] jeans, black shirt and a cap [] wearing his SHOES.
    As I watched him, I already knew that he would be zipping in and out of traffic as if he was in NYC delivering packages. But no, we were in Southern California. So the rider takes a lane, cuts cars off and runs a red light. I rolled my eyes and said, “figures.”
    I hate to admit this, but I’m really starting to resent some BICYCLE riders. There’s a good number of them that are law abiding, but there’s also a bunch of them that put a bad taste in other people’s mouths. Here’s what I mean by that. After getting home my daughter and I went for a bike ride to the park on her new KHS Hot Rod. I ran across 3 BICYCLE riders on the road, and guess what? They were polite, obeyed the rules and they stopped for the light. But because of the lime green BICYCLE rider, I already expected the 3 BICYCLE riders to behave just like the first rider…
    This didn’t just happen with that lime green guy, but it has happened numerous times with other BICYCLE rides that we come across in Fullerton or any other city in Orange County.
    Now I’m wondering if BICYCLE riders in other parts of the US behave the same way? Do they ride like idiots in your neighborhood?

  24. Raiyn February 10, 2010 12:31 pm 

    I see some people can’t handle self-examination.

  25. phillycommuter February 10, 2010 1:38 pm 

    Philadelphia has a large and long-standing hipster/fixedgear culture. It is a large city with lot of roads and not a lot of hills. I ride a longish commute in Philly and I constantly find myself having to defend bicycling in general from the automobile using denizens of our fair city. “Dangerous” fixed gear bicycles feature prominently in the rants of the last 10 years. By now, I know a fair number of guys and gals in their mid thirties who ride singe speeds of some kind. They generally ride as safely as the next person.

    I hate to plat the “get off my lawn” card, but I generally identify the problem as being irresponsible kids in their early 20s. There are some smart and responsible ones I am sure, but there are a lot of angry and reckless post adolescents on fixed gears these days.

    It could be worse. In the suburbs where I grew up, they all drove cars.

  26. Ghost Rider February 10, 2010 3:00 pm 

    It could be worse. In the suburbs where I grew up, they all drove cars.

    Amen, Philly!!!

  27. Finkmoney February 14, 2010 3:05 pm 

    Here in Seattle, you can’t spit without hitting a fixie hipster (not necessarily a bad thing, the spitting part I mean). While a vast majority are idiots that run red lights and cut cars and busses off, there are a big number that are very polite and follow the rules of the road like the rest of us.

    I don’t understand the culture. I don’t get the tight pants/vans/chucks/floppy knit hat thing. And as a matter of fact, most hipsters make me want to punch them straight in the neckpiece, but I do respect the ones that follow protocol.

    And BTW, fixednotfixie and fixiesRbikes2, I LOL’d at your comments. Thanks for the laughs, guys!

  28. Finkmoney February 14, 2010 3:08 pm 

    Formerfixie: “Why don’t you lighten up and worry about yourself rather than the fashion and riding habits of cyclists.”

    It’s also about an advocacy movement in this country and people that ride around like 12 year-olds that don’t know any better are a detriment to the movement. I personally am for as much bicycle infastructure as possible, but these jerks are serving as a bad example as a whole.

    And if I wanted to dress like a hipster, let’s face it, nobody really WANTS to dress like that….

  29. Formerfixie February 15, 2010 4:15 pm 

    I’d prefer to see idiots riding bicycles rather than driving cars, regardless of their style or obnoxiousness. Guess this site is just another forum for shallow name-calling all in the quest of your “movement.”. Maybe the name should be changed to Bike Snob, oh, sorry, that’s already taken…

  30. Ghost Rider February 15, 2010 6:03 pm 

    Formerfixie, don’t you worry that other motorists will see other “idiots riding bicycles” and lump YOU in with them, regardless of how safe, competent and visible you are?

    I know I do — normally I don’t give a crap what people think, but I do NOT want some motorist’s misplaced anger taken out on me because some douchebag (unskilled fixter, chad-like MTBer, “guy on bike” or any other flavor of idiot) did something stupid in front of them in the past.

  31. Formerfixie February 16, 2010 1:33 pm 

    This post is an obnoxious rant that is only concerned with trashing a group of people (hipsters, hatever the hell that means) for riding in a manner he objects to, which includes: taking a lane of traffic, which a cyclist had a right to do as part of traffic; cutting cars off, which is sometimes necessary because cars are speeding and it’s the only way to change lanes; and running a red light, which every cyclist does because red lights do not address the reality of bicycles at intersections, many of which have sensors that won’t change for cyclists.

    It’s an absolutely unfair standard to expect every cyclist to represent other cyclists. That’s a standard that no other road-user is held to and I find is disturbing to see opinion on a site that sells itself as promoting commuting by bike. This sounds like an old man telling those damn kids to get off his yard. It just perpetuates the distain the public has in general or cyclists.

    So fine, be mad at the hipster cyclist that you think will cause a motorist to take his agression out on you. This line of reasoning continues to place blame on cyclists rather than the motorists actually killing people. It’s great to see such wonderful writing on a bicycle blog. Good job guys!

  32. Devon September 20, 2010 2:51 pm 

    I ride a fixed gear to deliver legal documents all over downtown Sacramento. I cut corners, run lights and stop signs and ride against traffic when I have to but I’m considerate of the fact that cyclists generally make motorists nervous and I don’t do any of the things I mentioned if it inconveniences anyone or puts them in danger. I have to do these things to maintain efficiency otherwise I might as well be driving a car to make deliveries. What I find unnecessary is the myriad of kids on fixies causing problems in traffic for no other reason than to do it and be seen doing it. To them I say: you are a douche bag. Get a BMX bike and go to the skatepark. You’re probably too much of a pussy to do that anyways.

  33. james October 1, 2011 8:37 am 

    here in austin texas there is a big bike culture, i would say though that the fixie bikers are just the same. we all stay mostly in the bike lane and follow traffic laws.

  34. Bill Graham March 30, 2012 4:07 pm 

    James, I was just down in Austin for SXSW and it was well before the music side kicked into gear that I saw a lot of bicyclists ride like idiots. Plenty ran red lights quite late. A lot would simply continue in a big group through red lights as well. I saw some bobbing and weaving between traffic. 90% of them didn’t wear a helmet either. I have a friend that rides like an idiot and I have stopped riding with him in the city for the most part. He claims it’s “hard to stop” so he rides through red lights and doesn’t stop at signs. If it’s hard to stop, I think it’s time to get a fucking brake…

    I think some of y’all are making excuses for both bad rider and bad drivers. Both are bad. Both hurt the culture. I have no problem with someone calling out bad riders or drivers. But I definitely get a bitter taste moreso when I see someone riding a bicycle like an idiot on the streets. We get very little respect as it is.

  35. fltnsplr July 17, 2012 3:45 pm 

    This is a little after the fact, considering the date of the original post, but at the time that was written, there were idiots all over the place in San Diego on their fixies, running stop signs and red lights, frustrating drivers and pedestrians alike, and, in some cases, getting injured and even killed.

    Thank goodness the craze has subsided. Interestingly, its popularity subsided about the time the bloom came off the rose for Critical Mass as well. I can tell you that those people (the CMers) did nothing to promote the cause of cycling here in town.

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