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BPSA Hears Industry Concerns over New Law

Published November 3, 2008

CHICAGO, IL (BRAIN)—Members of the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association met on a conference call Monday morning to discuss lingering questions about complying with the new consumer product safety law.

According to the law, manufacturers need to test all bicycle products primarily intended for children 12 and under made after Nov. 12 for lead levels in paint and substrate, and ship the product with a certificate of compliance.

Many manufacturers, however, are still unclear on what the Consumer Product Safety Commission—the law’s enforcer—will consider a children’s bike and whether any adult bikes will also need a certificate.

BPSA members agreed that a general designation could be that all bikes with 24” wheels and smaller were intended for kids and 26” and over were for adults. Any gray area would need to be addressed by the manufacturer through marketing and advertising of the product.

Specialized’s Bob Margevicius suggested the bikes wouldn’t need an additional labeling to designate the size of the bike being imported as customs codes already contain that information.

“Right now, (the CPSC) is looking for easy, clean, easy to administer, customs codes sounds like a beautiful one because it’s largely going to be enforced at customs anyway,” said Erika Jones, an attorney providing legal advice to Trek and SRAM regarding the law.

The BPSA plans to take this suggestion to CPSC staff at a meeting it’s trying to set up for later this month.

If CPSC staff indicates that adult bicycles also need a certificate of compliance, manufacturers will also have to certify that those bikes meet the requirements for bicycles under the U.S. Code of Federal Requirements.

The problem is those regulations are outdated, having been enacted in the early 1970s, and some rules are no longer applicable to today’s technology.

For instance, the regulations state that the handlebar stem must have a permanent ring or mark that clearly indicates the minimum insertion depth of the stem into the fork assembly, but that doesn’t apply to today’s Aheadset style of headset.

Another rule states that pedals must use reflectors, but that rule was made before the advent of clipless pedals, many of which do not have a reflector option.

If the CPSC intends to require certificates for adult bicycles, these regulations will need to be updated, something the BPSA already intends to work on with the CPSC, according to John Nedeau, president of the BPSA.

One more sticking point with the new law pertains to the lead level requirements. As of February, children’s products with lead levels of more than 600 parts per million will be prohibited, but most Schraeder valves exceed that number.

Jones said she’s worked with other industries that will offer to the CPSC that the lead requirements apply only to products that are accessible to a child, and suggested the bike industry follow that direction.

“It’s an aggressive approach and there’s no guarantee of success, but if that group can get the commission to focus on products that children can swallow than it’s not an issue,” she said.

Those industries are suggesting the products undergo a use and abuse test and if the part can’t break off, it doesn’t have to be tested for lead content, she said.

Jones said the CPSC will likely give more guidance on topic during its public hearing Thursday on lead limits.

The BPSA plans to relay all the industry comments and concerns from Monday to CPSC staff at the forthcoming meeting, which has not yet been scheduled.

—Nicole Formosa

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