Rock the Bike's Fossil Fool, builder and owner of the bizarre tall bike/sound system/mobile art project/Burning Man homing beacon that can be seen rolling around SF, was recently taken to court over the bike. Apparently the fine state of California's Vehicle Code makes tall bikes illegal, as a rider of a bicycle must be able to stop safely while upright with “at least one foot on the ground.” So to get around the law, FF built two stabilizing bars (called “roots,” because the bike is named “El Arbol”. GET IT???) that can be deployed with a pull of a lever from the top of the bike, thus preventing the inevitable tipping-over that happens when stopping a tall-bike in traffic.
Of course, the safety measures were not good enough for SFPD. FF explains:
Even though San Francisco is a pretty liberal city when it comes to enforcement of bicycle related offenses, I did get pulled over at Critical Mass when I drifted to the back of the group, where the motorcycle cops ride. I deployed the roots, climbed down and talked to the officer, pointing out the safety features, how I am able to keep both hands on the handlebars, how wide the roots are, etc. He thought that the rig was illegal due to its height, but couldn't recall the tall bike statute by heart and wrote me up for no front headlight instead. I thought that was odd considering how bright the Down Low Glow was shining, but he had to pick something, i guess.
Fool paid that ticket and kept on pedaling, but the same officer apparently obsessed a little too much over the bike:
So I was riding El Arbol to [the Fix Fell] protest. I was rounding the corner at Dolores Park when the I saw the same officer talking to a couple other motorcycle cops on a break. He smiled and gave me a hand motion to come over, and I think he said “I have something to show you.” It was unclear whether I was getting pulled over, and I was running late for the protest, so I gave him a shrug and kept riding. I guess in retrospect it was pretty obvious what was going to happen next. He caught up to me on Church St. and pulled me over. This time he had researched the tall bike law and cited me for it. My arguments ranged from “C'mon man, I'm not hurting anyone” to nitpicky.
So FF, feeling his ride was perfectly safe, took his ticket, rode the bike to court with some pictures and sketches of the bike. The judge looked the bike over, asked him about how one gets on and off the bike, and simply dismissed the charges, noting that the bike and it's deployable roots were “novel.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how to beat California's tall bike law.