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BPSA Seeks Guidance on New Law

Published November 18, 2008

BETHESDA, MD (BRAIN)— A group from the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association met with key staff members from the Consumer Product Safety Commission last Friday to seek guidance on some of the industry’s sticking points with the new consumer product safety law.

Representatives from Trek, Specialized, Huffy, Advanced Sports Inc., Pacific Cycle, Raleigh, QBP, SRAM, Cannondale and CI Dynamics, a third-party testing lab based in California, traveled to CPSC headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland for an hour-and-a-half meeting with Gib Mullan, the director of compliance for the CPSC, and about 10 other staff members.

“I felt the meeting was constructive. The tone was really partnered. I think both Bob Burns (Trek’s legal counsel) and Erika Jones (a regulatory attorney retained by Trek to assist the BPSA) accurately deduced that the CPSC is besieged with criticism about the law and its implications across a wide range of industries. Our approach was reasoned,” said John Nedeau, president of the BPSA and vice president of sales for SRAM.

The new law requires manufactures to certify that all bikes manufactured after Nov. 12 meet CPSC regulations. As of Dec. 22, that certification must come from a third-party laboratory, and as of Feb. 10, children’s products with lead levels of more than 600 parts per million are prohibited on retail shelves.

Some bike parts like spoke nipples, cable ends and Schraeder valves exceed that limit because they’re made of machined brass alloy, of which lead is a vital component. The industry is looking for input from the CPSC, which oversees the law, on whether those parts would be subject to the law as they are inaccessible and not reasonably ingestible by kids and have been proven to be very safe.

"A hasty change to an alternative material may actually create a bigger safety risk than is posed with the inaccessible parts today," Nedeau said.

The BPSA also made its case against the enforcement of a retroactive lead ban since existing product cannot be reworked and existing inventory will likely not be sold through by the February deadline.

“For the industry, that could literally be billions of dollars in economic impact,” Nedeau said.

The BPSA is also looking for clarity on what constitutes a children’s bike. It’s suggesting bikes with wheels 24-inch and smaller be considered primarily intended for children.

Other industry concerns pertain to the U.S. Code of Federal Requirements regulations for bicycle. Manufactures need to certify their products meet those requirements, but many are outdated because they were enacted in the 1970s.

For example, the regulations call for a mark to identify the minimum insertion depth of the handlebar stem into the fork; however, now, most bikes use a threadless system so there is no insertion. Another rule says handlebars can be no more than 406 millimeters above the seat surface, which was intended to prevent instability with the old “Sting-Ray” handlebars.

Nedeau is now waiting to hear back from the CPSC with any specific guidance on the questions raised at Friday’s meeting. In the mean time, he plans to send a letter to the Association’s members outlining what the BPSA has done so far, the implications of the law and a request for a special fee to help handle ongoing legal costs with determining the law’s impact on the industry.

Nedeau made clear that the BPSA is not in a position to give legal advice to its members, and that any supplier with questions on how to comply with the law needs to contact their own attorney. The BPSA is exhausting the only available course of action in meeting with the CPSC in an effort to minimize the implication for the industry, Nedeau said.

For more information on the BPSA, visit www.BPSA.org.

—Nicole Formosa

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