You are here

CPSC considers creating new bike safety requirements

Published May 23, 2023
Sixty-day comment period beginning Thursday will allow the public to voice opinions.

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted Friday to seek public comment on whether bicycle safety requirements are outdated and if they adequately address e-bikes. In addition, Commissioner Mary T. Boyle requested the agency's technical staff conduct a study of e-bike "hazard patterns."

Under scrutiny is 16 CFR Section 1512, and defines a bicycle as:

  1. A two-wheeled vehicle having a rear drive wheel that is solely human powered.
  2. A two or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.

The action comes after the CPSC was petitioned to eliminate the coaster brake requirement on certain kids' bikes, which it also will seek comments on.

The bicycle safety requirement comment period will begin when the CPSC's formal notice is published in the Federal Register on Thursday and end 60 days later. The notice will explain how to submit comments, including submission of written comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or by mail to the CPSC: 4330 E. West Hwy., Bethesda, Md., 20814.

The CPSC said commenters should evaluate whether compliance with these standards provides adequate safeguards, especially related to e-bikes.

"More than 20 years ago, Congress authorized CPSC to promulgate regulations to protect the safety of consumers who ride low-speed electric bicycles," Boyle said in a statement. "The agency has not done so, and it is past time that we take a hard look at whether we should do so now. I am gratified that my fellow commissioners have joined me in a recent action I proposed to initiate a broad dialogue with stakeholders on the adequacy of safety requirements currently on the books for bicycles, including e-bikes."

According to PeopleForBikes, which issued a statement on Monday, the CPSC likely will create new bike regulations after the comment period.

"Accordingly, we will work with our member companies and their subject matter experts to participate in this process and help craft reasonable, principled regulations that will improve safety, reduce the amount of unsafe product on the market, and assist the CPSC in its mission to protect consumers by providing it with the tools it needs to police the marketplace."

Matt Moore, PFB's policy counsel, said, "PeopleForBikes looks forward to submitting comments and participating in any future development of needed changes to the CPSC bicycle and e-bike regulations, including the addition of applicable recognized testing standards. After suggesting to the CPSC in January that stronger regulations were needed to limit the import and sale of unsafe, untested batteries for e-mobility devices, we are pleased to see the process moving forward to regulate the unfortunate flow of unsafe mobility products into the U.S. market."

Boyle referenced the CPSC's October report about increasing e-bike injuries and fatalities attributed to collisions, braking, and user control issues. It also noted while traffic safety is key, the weight, speed, and acceleration of e-bikes plays a role. The 2023 e-bike study will expand the understanding of these hazards, Boyle said.

In December, the CPSC sent a letter to more than 2,000 manufacturers and importers of e-bikes and other micromobility devices, urging them to comply with relevant safety standards, including UL's 2849.

Mounting New York City lithium-ion battery fires prompted the City Council to act, passing a safety legislative package recently, including prohibiting the sale of e-bikes, other powered mobility devices like e-scooters, and batteries that don't meet recognized certification like UL. And last month, N.Y. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand said during a news conference that they support federal legislation to regulate lithium-ion battery safety standards.

"I have urged the commission's enforcement staff to press manufacturers on battery safety in micromobility devices, including e-bikes, which, at a minimum, should not be sold unless they adhere to voluntary safety standards for batteries and electrical systems," Boyle said. "Commenters on the petition are encouraged to weigh in on whether compliance with these standards provides adequate safeguards in the e-bike context."

Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

Join the Conversation