What started out as a local story in Germany has now reached other parts of the globe after an apology from police for an odd incident.
Back in March, theater box office employee Bogdan Ionescu was biking through the city of Cologne when he was stopped by a police officer and given a fine of €25 (about $48) for riding a bike containing only one handbrake. Here’s the thing: Ionescu has only one arm and thus doesn’t exactly have use for the second handbrake, so he rides a modified bicycle that allows him to operate a second brake with his foot.
Road safety laws in Germany dictate that bicycles include two brakes on the handlebar, leading the officer to conclude that Ionescu’s bike was not roadworthy. After doing a bit of digging, the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, Cologne’s local newspaper, later determined the bike’s modifications to be totally legal.
The Independent notes on Wednesday that €20 of the €25 fine were for a faulty light, so police initially offered only a partial refund when the legality of the modified bike was pointed out. Ionescu, however, says he was able to prove otherwise and police recently agreed to issue a full refund as well as an apology. He had reportedly told police he felt discriminated against and insulted by the incident.
“It's great news, I'm really happy,” Ionescu told the Stadt-Anzeiger. A spokesperson for the police department, meanwhile, confirmed the bike was roadworthy and said “we only hope something like this never happens again.”
The update to the unusual citation comes a couple of weeks after Germany’s highest court of appeals made a ruling involving bike safety that no longer automatically places partial responsibility on people not wearing a helmet during an accident. Wearing a bike helmet is not compulsory under German law.
The 2011 case that led to the ruling involved a 61-year-old woman who was knocked off her bike by a car door. Claiming the woman was partially responsible for her injuries for not wearing a helmet, the car owner’s insurance company had wanted to reduce its payment to her, which resulted in a court case.