Liberty Mutual, an insurance company, is running a double page ad in USA
Today, with the tag line "Yes, there's an insurance company that's as
responsible as you are."
The first photo is a bicycle messenger with this text: "Doesn't believe
lunch hour means lunch hour and a half." The guy is dressed in messenger
grunge, and he's wearing a helmet and gloves. But if you look closely, he's
riding what is presumably a track bike sans brakes.
Riding without brakes in traffic is a hazardous practice and it's surprising
that an insurance company would run such a photo. I know, I know, there are
tons of people who do it, but with the trendy popularity of fixed gears just
now, it seems irresponsible to promote brakeless riding. I ride a fixed
gear regularly, using it to commute to work and back, and despite 30 years
of fixed gear experience, I still have occasion to use the brake a few times
each week. It may not be necessary to use it every time I have to stop, but
it's good to have it when I need it.
I ran into a guy on one of the Freewheel training rides in the early spring.
He's a bit older than me and he rides a vintage Schwinn Paramount track bike
without brakes. He does it 'old school' style, with a pair of heavy
welder's gloves that he uses to slow down. Like I said, I have a lot of
experience on a fixed gear, but I'd still hesitate to try this, particularly
on a twitchy track bike.
No, I'm not going to email the insurance company and point out the glaring
irony of that photo. It's likely someone will, though. Given my history
with insurance companies, it would only give them an excuse to raise my rates - again.