Friday, October 27, 2006

NJ Moves to Ban Unsafe Quick Releases

Proposed Law Would Require Safety Devices on Wheels
10/27/2006--(TRENTON) - A detailed description of legislation sponsored by Assembly members Paul D. Moriarty, David R. Mayer, and Joan M. Voss that would prohibit the sale in New Jersey of bicycles with “problem prone ‘quick-release’ front wheel assemblies” was released by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee on October 19.

The legislation titled A-2686 would make it an unlawful to sell adult and children’s bicycles equipped with conventional “quick-release” wheels in the state, unless they were equipped with a secondary fail-safe device to prevent the accidental release of the wheel.

Responses from the cycling community were swift. “The New Jersey proposal is looking at the bike as a toy or plaything, not as transportation,” wrote Steve Faust on ebikes, an electronic exchange in New York. He noted that quick releases are critical for taking a bike apart when parking, so the front wheel won’t be stolen.

Mr. Faust also noted that many companies had already designed safety catches on the front of their forks, to prevent the wheel from coming off it the quick release is open or loose: “It has been standard practice to include these catches on pretty much all cheap and mid range bikes for well over a decade,” he added.

But according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, these requirements are only voluntary and still have not met formal approval by the subcommittee that focuses on bike issues. (See below for current, federally defined standards that are enforceable under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.)

The topic was however a part of the overall meeting agenda by the CPSC bike subcommittee this past May, which was held in Toronto, Canada, and was attended by representatives from Trek Bikes, Fox Racing, Specialized, Huffy, Cannondale, Cervelo, and Sram, among others. But no agreement was reached at the meeting, leaving the industry open to self-policing and self-imposed standards.

Quick releases on the front end of children’s bikes, predominantly in the market’s low-end are to blame, said cyclists overhwhelmingly. Either the equipment is faulty, or the parents do not pay attention, having neglected the bike in the corner of a garage for months on end, and allowing children to use the bikes without first inspecting them.

Parental fault may well have been the reasoning of Superior Court Judge Michael Dufficy in a Marin County, California ruling in favor of Wal-Mart and Dynacraft BSC Inc. in a lawsuit last May where plaintiffs claimed that their children suffered disabling accidents when the front wheel of their bikes came off while riding.

The 12-person civil jury rejected claims that the Wal-Mart and Dynacraft. knowingly sold bicycles with a defective quick-release lever that caused the front wheel to fall off. Three of the children had brain injuries from their falls.

Mark Webb, the plaintiff’s lawyer, claimed that Judge Dufficy did not allow evidence at trial that Dynacraft had paid $1.4 million in civil fines in 2004 for not reporting defects in some of its bicycles to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but then allowed Dynacraft to provide the jury with a letter by its lawyers that aimed to show they were in full compliance with the agency.

NYCycleNews checked CPSC records to reveal that Dynacraft recalled 500 of its mountain bikes in 1999 due to the quick release mechanism not functioning properly. The company has had several other bike part recalls according to the organization's records.

They are not the only company with such recalls: On Sept. 29, Full Speed Ahead, Inc. of Woodinville, Washington, recalled more than 1,300 bike quick releases. In a statement, CPSC said that “an internal part in the lever mechanism can break, reducing clamping effectiveness and rendering the unit inoperable, potentially causing a bicyclist to fall.” The quick release mechanism reportedly failed 12 times, "with no injuries," according to CPSC. The mechanisms had been sold integrally on Scatto Bicycles, but also separately as a kit for $49.95 during the time period of October 2003 to September 2004.

And in July of this year, Shimano Inc., of Osaka, Japan recalled models of its quick release mechanism used on high-end bikes, citing 19 silver colored models of which 8,500 were in the market and were defective because they could open, causing a cyclist to fall head first.

Consumers were advised by the CPSC that they should stop using the skewers “immediately” and return them to the stores where they were purchased. The quick release skewers had been distributed to bicycle specialty stores and dealers nationwide from November 2005 through March 2006 and had retailed for between $13 and $44.

Readers are urged to contact the following sponsors of the bill with their comments and questions:
Assemblyman Moriarty
(856) 232-6700

Assemblyman Mayer
(856) 227-5900

Assemblywoman Voss
(201) 346-6400

James Sverapa IV
(609) 292-7065

SHIMANO RECALL (July, 2006) Description and Models:
This recall involves quick releases supplied after November 1, 2005 with Shimano front hubs and front wheels on the following road racing and MTB bicycles. Model numbers included in the recall are: HB-5501, HB-5600, HB-6600, HB-7800, HB-HF-08, HB-M756, HB-M760, HB-M760, HB-M960, HB-M965, WH-7801, WH-7801C, WH-7801C50, WH-7801SL, WH-R600, WH-M965, DH-2N71, DH-3N71 and DH-3D71. Only quick releases with silver skewers and without a round sticker on the back of the quick release lever are involved in this recall. Remedy: Consumers should stop riding immediately and take the quick release device into their local bike dealer or retailer for a free inspection and repair.

Consumer Contact: For more information, contact Shimano American Corp. at (800) 353-4719 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at

SCATTO RECALL (Sept. 29. 2006)
Full Speed Ahead (FSA) Scatto bicycle wheel quick releases. Description: The Full Speed Ahead Scatto quick release was sold as standard equipment for RD-400 and XC-300 bicycle wheelsets and also separately. The levers are laser etched “FSA” and the end pieces have a distinctive round shape. Sold at: Bike shops, catalogs, and Web sites sold the recalled quick releases nationwide from October 2003 through September 2004 for $49.95 per set.

Remedy: Free replacement. Consumers should stop using the quick releases and call Full Speed Ahead toll-free at (877) 743-3372 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or write to Full Speed Ahead, Inc., 12810 NE 178th St #102, Woodinville, WA 98072.

Provisions pertaining to federal bike requirements as per the Consumer Product Safety Commission Code of Federal Recommendations, CFR in Title 16, Part 1512. Bicycles that fail these requirements are banned under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.
Wheel Hub Requirements copied from CPSC summary paper: pg 4.

it appears that QR may NOT be required to have safety tabs, but they must have positive identification of open/closed.

What requirements must wheel hubs meet? All bicycles (other than sidewalk bicycles) must meet the following requirements:

(1) Each wheel must have a positive locking device
that fastens it to the frame. Use the
manufacturer’s recommended torque to tighten
threaded locking devices. The locking devices on
front wheels (except for quick-release devices)
must not loosen or come off when a tester tries to
take them off using a torque of 12.5 ft-lb applied
in the direction of removal. Once fastened to the
frame, the axle of the rear wheel must not move
when it receives a force of 400 lbf for 30 seconds
applied in the direction that removes the wheel.

(2) Quick-release devices with a lever must be
adjustable to allow the lever to be set for
tightness. Riders must be able to clearly see the
levers and determine whether the levers are
locked or unlocked. When it is locked, the
clamping action of the quick release device must
bite into the metal of frame or fork.

(3) Front wheel hubs that do not use a quick release
device must have a positive retention feature that
keeps the wheel on when the locking devices are
loosened. To test this, release or unscrew the
locking device, and apply a force of 25 lbf to the
hub in the same direction as the slots in the fork.
See §1512.18(j)(3) for this test.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Maine, State of Cyclist Intolerance

I can't believe what I read today, from Maine.

Drivers in this country are out of control, our DOT's are lacking in vision, and the leadership obviously needs to be replaced if motorists feel this way.

After a cyclist was killed (note, the cyclist was killed, not the car driver), these are some of the things that those sensible, God-fearing, quaint and quiet people of Maine wrote.

"Get them off the road," wrote one reader.

"Little did I know all the cyclists I see have no vehicle and are apparently jobless & homeless thus not contributing to state or local taxes," wrote another.

A third complained that cyclists are to blame for disobeying traffic laws--as if motorists did not routinely do so.

And what does this driver mean?: "As a driver, I keep in check that my vehicle out weighs a human being by a couple thousand pounds. Regardless if an accident I am in is caused by me or a walker/runner/bicyclist, that person is likely to suffer more damage getting hit by my car, than my car would suffer in such an accident."

Does that mean they want the person to suffer more than their car or the other way around? Let's hope it's the latter.

Now to put this in perspective, who is to blame for these perspectives, and this fighting on the road?

Our leaders are to blame for not allocating more dollars to creating safe bike lanes on the major roads, the Departments of Transportation, state and local, for not implementing safe ways for us to travel, and the car manufacturers who continue to build faster cars that only provide safety for the people inside a vehicle--and not for the safety of people outside.

Here is the article:
Drivers versus cyclists: Just exactly whose road is it anyway?
By Colleen Stone

Monday, October 16, 2006
Following a collision between a man on a bicycle and a truck in South Portland more than a week ago that killed the cyclist, people came out of the Internet woodwork to add their two cents on the story at
Only most of the comments weren't about the specific incident itself, but the larger topic of drivers versus cyclists in general.

Emphasis on versus.

A lot of drivers had clearly had enough of dealing with cyclists on the road whom they saw as reckless. Someone posting with the handle "s" thought cyclists were putting themselves and drivers in peril by flouting the rules of the road:

"Cyclists are supposed to follow the same rules of the road are they not? Why then, do most continue thru stop signs and weave in and out and around thru traffic rather than wait like the rest of us? This does cause problems and irritation and is dangerous."

The anecdotes about poor cycling etiquette and plain old recklessness went on and on: Cyclists riding across the entire expanse of a lane, proceeding through red lights, not using turn signals and cutting across traffic. While such behavior isn't necessarily the rule among cyclists, it's common enough that many have developed a hate/hate relationship with bikes on the road.

Ben was one person calling for stricter regulation of bikes as a solution to such infractions: "You have (to) take a class and have a license to do anything on a public way. Why don't you have to have a bike license? Also who pays for the roads that the bikes ride on? Isn't that why we have to register our vehicles to pay for roads to be maintained?"

More education Ð for cyclists and drivers alike Ð about the rules of the road concerning bikes and vehicles would be helpful. But as some of you were quick to point out, making licensing a condition of operating a motor vehicle doesn't weed out all of the horrific drivers on the road.

And as Rick pointed out, a lot of cyclists do pay for road maintenance, through vehicle fees and other taxes:

"Little did I know all the cyclists I see have no vehicle and are apparently jobless & homeless thus not contributing to state or local taxes."

Another visitor questioned why anyone would ride a bike in the dark anyway, saying cyclists difficult enough for drivers to spot during the day. To that, Jesse had this to say:

"Perhaps the cyclist had a job, but no car. That's what someone would be doing on the road at 6:00 in the morning. If you have trouble seeing cyclists in broad daylight, maybe YOU should be riding (or walking)."

Some drivers seem to forget that for some cyclists, bikes aren't just a means of getting in some exercise or recreation; they're also a mode of transportation. For some people, their only mode of transportation. Of course, that doesn't mean that cyclists shouldn't take all possible precautions to make sure they're visible to drivers. Some weren't so sure even taking those precautions would be enough to satisfy what they see as inconsiderate drivers.

To mock some drivers' apparent lack of consideration for bikers, one poster slipped into character and launched into a tirade against those pesky bikers:

"While I'm putting down the phone and finishing my donut, this bicyclist comes out of nowhere!! If I had waited just a couple of more seconds to turn off the "Men in Black 2" video, he would have run right into me, probably scratching my new paint job."

Of course, the satire was lost on some and a few indignant comments followed. So maybe there's hope yet.

LW pointed out that no matter who's at fault in an accident involving a car and a bike, drivers have one big advantage over cyclists: a steel cage.

"As a driver, I keep in check that my vehicle out weighs a human being by a couple thousand pounds. Regardless if an accident I am in is caused by me or a walker/runner/bicyclist, that person is likely to suffer more damage getting hit by my car, than my car would suffer in such an accident."

All the more reason for drivers and cyclists to exercise caution and courtesy.

Another user, Reason, wondered why people were discussing bikes and cars competing for road real estate at all. As in: Why are bikes on the road, anyway?

"Get them off the roads Ð the bikes, that is. Stand-alone paths that commuters and families can use safely. I'd love to see bike paths crisscross the city and extend beyond to neighboring towns Ð Freeport, Brunswick."

In an ideal world, a bike would never touch a road. But as we all know, the world is far from ideal. And when that's the case, such clashes as the ones we see between drivers and cyclists occur.

CU, remarking on the South Portland accident, urged people to stop blaming and start working toward solutions:

"I hope we can find a way to work together, without blame, to make sure no other drivers or emergency personnel have to see that ever again."

On that, I think everyone can agree.

KEEP UP with Colleen Stone's latest thoughts and musings on Maine and post
your comments in her regularly updated blog:

Reader comments

Biker 69 of Portland, ME
Oct 16, 2006 1:22 PM
I spend a lot of time riding the roads in Southern Maine. I have found that many drivers are oblivious to a cyclist's presence on the road and really do not have a clue as to the courtesy they should extend to a cyclist if they do happen to notice them, unless of course the driver rides a bike him/her self. And it is true that many cyclists bend the rules of the road when operating in traffic. I would agree with the idea that more training and instruction is needed in driver's ed courses in an effort to try and reduce accidents, and biker's need this type of training also. But it really comes down to courtesy on both sides of the issue. Bikers: follow the rules. Be noticed when riding but avoid taunting drivers with your presence. And don't forget that bicycles are to be equiped with lights (not reflectors) when operating after sun down. Drivers: give bikers some room to work and don't forget that the biker that you just passed is still moving with you when you make your right hand turn!
Erik West of Bath, ME
Oct 16, 2006 12:21 PM
I've taught bike safety education to youth and adults in Maine for seven years. I've taken adults out in traffic to learn how to ride safely and legaly. I also put about 20,000 miles a year on my car traveling the state, so I think I can see the driver and the cyclist point of view.

That said, I need to comment on one of her conclusions. She states that "In an ideal world, a bike would never touch a road." I think in an ideal world, bikes and cars would coexist. They would share the road. Car drivers would also be cyclists and would expect bikes. Cyclists would expect to follow the automobile laws and realize the inherent disadvantage to being on a bicycle in terms of being seen. And both groups realize the inherent advantage of being a cyclists and being in better physical shape as a result.

For years, bicycle educators like myself have tried to find a way to reach the cyclist that we see riding against traffic, in the dark, without lights, without a helmet, etc. But this demographic is very hard to reach as an educator. And they may well have been taught as a child, as I was, to ride their bike on the wrong side of the street.

However, if the American culture accepts bicycles as road users, like the law does, this behavior is less likely to happen. Today, when a person turns 16 and gets a licence to drive, many expect them to never ride a bike again. This is such a shortsighted assumption.

FInally, We dont need to create an ideal world for it to happen. We need only to look at european contries where cars and bikes coexist everyday. How do they do it? It is part of their culture.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Gubernatorial Candidate Spitzer and the Port Authority Respond to GWB Complaints

October 9, 2006
Last month, Benepe's Bike Blog wrote a letter to Kenneth Ringler, the Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey requesting a status update on the progress of the south cyclist and pedestrian path (letter reprinted below).

As many of you know, this more accessible side was closed all summer during peak riding season, a complete affront to the importance of cyclists in the region. The north side was opened in exchange, but numerous steps have led to accidents and severe inconvenience for cyclists. The fact that the bridge path is completely closed to cyclists from 12 midnight to 6 a.m. is also an abrogation of our civil right to equal access under federal transportation law.

We also sent a copy of the letter to New York gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer, whom we suspect will be likely to support bicycle progress in New York, as well as have control over how the PANYNJ handles cycling matters if he should win the election this fall.

Included in the letter was a suggestion that the port authority charge cyclists 50 cents and then provide on and off ramps directly to the Greenway in Manhattan, and to Hudson Terrace and River Road in New Jersey. We also asked for 24-hour access, the same that cars and trucks enjoy.
While Mr. Spitzer responded to not only the immediate need for the south pathway to be opened but also the larger issues confronting cyclists on bridge crossings at the GWB and other bridges (such as overnight closures,) the PANYNJ did not even respond to the issue, treating the suggestion as if it were never made.

And while Mr. Spitzer noted that he would look into the various issues, including the accessibility of bridges to cyclists, the port authority only said that unanticipated construction, such as additional areas of the south sidewalk needing repair, were to blame for the delay. They made no mention of how they might better handle the north side stairs which have ill fitting railways and handrails that do little to help cyclists up and down while wearing cleated shoes.

One thing is certain: contact names and numbers have been supplied: Mr. Robert Durando, General Manager of the GWB Bus Station at 201-346-4005; and Terri Benczik, Client Manager of Government and Community Affairs, at 212-435-4807, both at the PANYNJ.

Reprint of Original letter:

Sept. 12, 2006

Kenneth J. Ringler
Executive Director
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
225 Park Ave. South
New York, NY 10003

Dear Mr. Ringler:

The construction on the south side of the George Washington Bridge that has blocked the south path from pedestrian and cyclist use has proven to be an enormous inconvenience for cyclists this summer, peak bike riding season.

Several cyclists have fallen down the long, slippery steps on the north side, damaging their bodies and their bikes.

On weekends there are long wait times to go up and down the stairs to cross the bridge because of the number of cyclists crossing at one time (more than 1,500 per day crossing twice).

I have watched several cyclists turning away from the bridge because of the huge inconvenience caused by the up and down staircase, including a family of three, two adults and a baby, on bikes.

The bike railings are useless for most cyclists because they wear cleated shoes that slip on the open metal stairways, and therefore while holding the side rails with their hands, they must carry their bikes. While they hold the side rails, they must do so more than 2 feet away because of the placement of the yellow bike rails which are in the way, and completely useless to them.

In the meantime, we were told the south side would be open by September.

It is not open yet, and it is now the second year in a row where cyclists are not only inconvenienced but also endangered by the construction.

In a reply to one of my emails earlier this summer, someone on your media staff said that cyclists should be thankful for any passage at all because, after all, it is “free”.

I have done an informal poll among cyclists, and found that they would be happy to pay a toll of 50 cents —the car equivalent by weight and size—to have the same amenities as motorists: ramped entrances and exits, direct connections to bike routes and bike paths, such as the Westside greenway, and most importantly, 24-hour access.

The fact that after so many years we do not have on and off ramps directly connecting us to all important bike paths in New York and New Jersey, is incredible and prejudicial, favoring motorized traffic over human beings who are preserving the environment.

That the path is closed from midnight to 6 a.m. because cyclists and pedestrians pose more of a terrorist threat than do cars and trucks which can carry huge caches of explosives, is prejudicial and without merit. The bridge can also, at any point in time, be easily hit by a missile fired from either side of the river, along any of the walkways, parks or streets which are largely un-patrolled by the authorities.

Can we have a progress report on the status of the south side please?

Please indicate in your reply the person responsible at the Port Authority with whom I can address these short and long term issues.

I will also like to open a formal dialogue on behalf of cyclists to convert the pathways to ramps that lead seamlessly into bike paths, and the restitution of 24-hour access.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Best Regards,

Jen Benepe
President and Publisher
2157 Center Ave., Suite One
Fort Lee, NJ 07024

Cc: Gov. George E. Pataki
NY State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer

To be published later: copies of both letters.