A strange state of affairs has arisen because of the passing of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. (CPSIA) The act limits the amount of lead content in products intended for use by children under 12 years old.
This act has now left manufacturers of children’s bicycles facing a huge problem, because certain parts of kids bicycles do not comply with the less than 300 parts lead per million that the new law requires.
Where is the lead content in a bicycle you may ask? It had me puzzled. It is in the brass used in the tire’s Schrader valve. Apparently the new regulations will also limit the industry's use of recycled steel and aluminum; both of which may or may not at some time or other be contaminated with lead.
The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association(BPSA) an organization that looks after the interests of bicycle manufacturers, applied for exemption from this requirement with the Consumer Product Safety Council. (CPSA) The CPSA is responsible for enforcing this legislation.
Exemption was denied, but a temporary two year stay on enforcement was granted, to give the bicycle industry time to find an answer to this problem. Not a real problem, just one of bureaucratic making. The reasons given for denial by the CPSC was, and I quote:
We are compelled to deny the petition because the language of the statute does not give us the flexibility to do otherwise, even though our staff does not believe that lead exposure from using bicycles and related products presents a risk that they would recommend the Commission regulate.
The risk assessment methods traditionally used by the Commission in evaluating exposure to lead are no longer available to us under the CPSIA.
The BPSA was able to put forward scientific proof that a child riding a bicycle would be exposed to less lead than drinking regular tap water, or eating certain perfectly legal candy. No matter, the law it appears is inflexible, and it with take another Act of Congress to reverse it.
Also emphasized by the BPSA, that bike resellers such as Thrift Stores can’t comply with the new law because all used bikes have brass components. Dream Bikes, a Trek-sponsored nonprofit in Madison, faces the same problem.
It takes bikes away from the least privileged, and complicates the situation where a child outgrows a bike and the bike is sold or donated.
In the mean time the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association is facing extreme financial hardship. They have already spent their entire yearly budget of $100,000 in legal fees fighting not only this, but the ongoing New Jersey Quick Release ban.
Another prime example of our government in trying to protect us from ourselves, and in doing so creating more problems than they solve. And those of us from previous generations are left to wonder how we even made it thus far without all this protection