Welcome to Santa Cruz County’s Bicycle Courier Blog

I thought it would be great to have a place where Bike Couriers and Bike Riders could meet and talk, share stories, trade advice, and build an online community. I look forward to reading and writing our Courier stories, news, and comments.

Rick Graves

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lucian Gregg and fixies in Santa Cruz

My deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Lucian Gregg. For me it serves as yet another reminder of just how fragile life on the road is.

If there is something positive that can come out of all the media attention paid to his untimely death, I hope that it can spark a discussion and debate about the relationships between all of us who share the road.

For those of us who make our living on a bike (I am owner and founder of Clutch Couriers and have been a bike messenger since 1994) it can be obnoxious to bear the brunt of the road rage generated by the “fixie” fad and it’s enthusiast’s behavior.

While I appreciate Josh Muir’s optimistic viewpoint (in the Sentinel’s article January 7th) that fixed gear bike riders are people who “figure out a way to enjoy themselves in the world” it has been my experience that many fixie riders in Santa Cruz are trying to impress each other while paying little mind to how their actions affect those of us who ride every day.

Fixed gear bike messengers started out in Manhattan where the flat terrain makes it the logical choice, and the need to blow stoplights and cut off pedestrians is part of the job if you want to make a decent commission.

The practice spread to other cities, and although I am in awe of the skills displayed by the elite riders in San Francisco, with all those hills, I doubt that riding a fixie makes them more proficient bike messengers.

If you look at the bicycles that are ridden by the nine or so messengers in Santa Cruz (including the four that ride for Clutch Couriers) they all have gears and brakes as a practical matter.

Lets face it, fixed gear bikes take longer to stop, and if you have to skid to a halt you are less likely to yield to motorists and pedestrians who may have the right of way.

Josh Long was right when he equated the fixed gear fad to a certain trendy brand of footwear, however as my sixteen-year-old daughter informs me, Uggs are “so last year”. Maybe riding a fixie in Santa Cruz should be too.

Rick Graves/Clutch Couriers


B34NS said...

Great posting man, I couldn't agree more to be honest. I think that the people who blow stop lights, and stop signs, who cut off cars, and who just generally ride erratically, ruin it for those of us on any bike really. I think that a lot of people see the share the road sign and think thats just for cars to pay attention to, but in reality bicyclists need to also be sharing the road with cars.

Sam said...

Hey man, I just google'd here and am relieved to find a reasonable voice speak about the tragedy. Lucian was a buddy of mine, one of the first people I met coming into college and a person I identified with on a number of funky San Franciscan introvert sort of levels. I just came back from winter break to see people who were close with Lucian pushing their fixies back to their rooms, and I almost drowned myself with my drink in an effort to quell my anger. The look on their faces spake heaping mounds of bull*, with a hint of "i think i can get away with this and still be cool". I generally don't take things seriously, but I cannot stand to witness such a dismissal of an understanding and "squandering a moment of solidarity". And the world continues to rotate.

Anonymous said...

f-ck you rick.

i've been riding fixed for years. and comparing uggs to the riders that are finding themselves in the world is an insult. cyclist both fixed and geared run stops and lights. ive seen ur riders to the same.. its a matter of caution and respect to the biking community.. starting conflict is not solving the problem.. awareness not neglect.. fixed was here before geared. so its gonna be here to stay.

Clutch Couriers Weblog said...

Hey Anonymous-I can tell you really thought this out by your opening comment.
Listen-I'm not starting this conflict-look at some of the messenger boards to see what real messengers think of your fellow hipsters. This is a reaction to the blow-back we are experiencing from the community at large (yes there are people that don't give a f-ck about our snobbish little subculture.)
You made my point exactly when you say it's about caution and respect-show some common sense and I won't be trippin' on your empty chrome bag and other shiny trappings.

Peace, Rick