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US Consumer Product Safety Commission Proposes Rule Changes Regarding Bicycle Safety

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Last week the Cyclelicious blog reported that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission is accepting public comment on a number of proposed changes to the Federal Government’s bicycle safety requirements, these rule changes affect recumbents and track bikes. Somehow the requirements established for bicycles fall under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, just like asbestos, lawn darts, and T.V. antennas (what the hell is a T.V. antenna?). In the 70’s, when the CPSC first wrote up the bike regulations, bikes were primarily made out of wood and fish glue, but thankfully these regulations were updated in 2008, more modern frame materials were recognized — no longer are we instructed to “emboss” our fork dropouts with our quick release clamps. Carbon fiber doesn’t like being embossed.

These rule changes affect sidewalk bicycles (I’ll explain in a second), track bicycles (SWEET fixies!), recumbent bicycles (we’ll make fun of those in a moment), and wheel hubs (I got nothin’ for wheel hubs).

Learn about “sidewalk bicycles,” and other fascinating things after the break…

Sidewalk Bicycles. Contrary to popular opinion, are not those big basket-having bikes that New York City food delivery-dudes use to run down old ladies on the sidewalk. They are, in fact, CHILDREN’s bicycles, small children’s bicycles, intended for use as toys, but still possessing a foot brake. Awesomely enough, sidewalk bikes are classified by their seat height, which allows recumbent bicycles to be classified as “sidewalk bicycles.” Maybe that’s why I saw the owner of a certain local bike shop riding down the sidewalk on his recumbent the other day. Shoot, I didn’t know he was sidewalk-legal. Now I feel bad for yelling “Get a Razor Scooter!” at him.

Eh, not really.

The new rule would cinch up the gaping loophole that allows rogue recumbent riders to terrorize sidewalks. The new regulation would also require recumbent riders’ shorts to be longer than their beards.

OK, that last one…totally made up. And, just in case you missed it, so was the wood and fish glue thing.

Track bicycles are currently defined as: “a bicycle designed and intended for sale as a competitive machine having tubular tires, single cranktowheel ratio, and no freewheeling feature between the rear wheel and the crank.” Track bikes are exempt from regulations concerning chainguards and reflectors for this reason. Track bike riders are also exempt from not-wearing HUGE freaking sunglasses, not-wearing jeans so tight that their children come out sterile, and not-cutting their bars down so narrow that they can only hold them with three fingers of one hand.

The word “tubular” is to be dropped, but the word “velodrome” is to be added, so the new definition would read:

A bicycle designed and intended for sale as a competitive velodrome machine having tires, single cranktowheel ratio, and no freewheeling feature between the rear wheel and the crank.

I like that they still include the word “tires.” I guess the folks at the CPSC caught wind of the next Fixie-kid trend: Riding around on nothin’ but rims.

The CPSC is throwing an olive branch to the recumbent crowed after sticking it to them with the whole “not riding on the sidewalk thing.” Recumbents will be exempt from the rule stating that handlebars can be no more than 16″ above the seat surface (including the sheepskin cover).

Mechanical Requirements

Various updates and typo fixes will be included in the next rule change.
One of them pertains to a: “rechoirement four an miniminum intertion lion fro handlebra smets.”

Of course this line should read: “requirement for a minimum insertion line for handlebar stems.”

In reality that line might be left out entirely because it doesn’t apply to modern threadless stems.

There will be updates to testing procedures as well. “A fork deflection test description will be simplified; and obsolete references to an “Illuminating Engineering Society Lighting Handbook” in the section on reflector tests have been updated.”

Speaking of reality…see Cyclelicious for a more, uh, less-silly version of this story.

Info for Submitting Comments:

Comments on this proposed rule should be submitted by January 18, 2011. You may submit comments, identified by the agency name (US Consumer Product Safety Commission) and Docket No. CPSC-2010-0104, by any of the below methods. All submitted information — including any personal information — becomes public and may be published at government websites. Do not send confidential, private or trade secret information.

  • Electronic Submissions: Submit electronic comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal:
  • Written Submissions: Send five copies to
    Office of the Secretary, U.S. CPSC
    Room 820, 4330 East West Highway
    Bethesda, MD 20814
    Telephone (301) 504-7923.

Read the full notice: Text or PDF.

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Richard Masoner
13 years ago

made out of wood and fish glue” .. heh, thanks for the giggle 🙂

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