Since becoming a CPSC Commissioner last year, I have been clear about my commitment to bicycle safety and my intent to advocate for agency resources that match the importance of this issue to everyday consumers. E-bikes in particular need more attention from the safety community.
More than twenty years ago, Congress authorized CPSC to promulgate regulations to protect the safety of consumers who ride low-speed electric bicycles. The agency has not done so, and it is past time that we take a 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e-bikes.[i] The action triggers a public comment process that seeks input on whether CPSC’s bicycle regulations are out of date and whether they are adequate to address the safety of electric bicycles.
To further our own data collection and analysis, I have also requested that the Commission’s technical staff conduct a special study of the hazard patterns associated with e-bikes. A CPSC report issued last September (Micromobility Products-Related Deaths, Injuries, and Hazard Patterns: 2017-2021) paints a picture of increasing e-bike injuries and fatalities attributed to collisions, braking, and user control issues. While traffic safety is a key part of the equation, the weight, speed, and acceleration of e-bikes undoubtedly play a role. The special study that has been added to the 2023 Operating Plan following our recent midyear review will expand our understanding of these hazards.
In addition, I am paying close attention to the crisis of e-bike battery fires in my native New York City and beyond. 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. Commenters on the petition are encouraged to weigh in on whether compliance with these standards provides adequate safeguards in the e-bike context.
I firmly believe that the proliferation of e-bikes can be a positive development for the new green economy. But when innovation outpaces safety regulations, consumers are the ones who pay the price. Every day we see children, commuters, delivery workers, cycling enthusiasts, and weekend riders on our streets and trails; they ride bicycles, both traditional and electric, for transportation, recreation, sport, and fun. The job of CPSC is to create and enforce clear safety standards that protect them. I am pleased that our latest action seeking broad public comment on the adequacy of the CPSC bicycle regulations in general, and e-bikes in particular, puts the Commission on a path to deliver on this mission for consumers.
I encourage the public to submit robust comments, supported by detailed data and evidence, on the adequacy of the CPSC bicycle regulations to protect the safety of consumers who use these products.
[i] In response to the Petition Requesting Rulemaking to Revoke the Footbrake Requirement for Sidewalk Bicycles, the Commission voted unanimously to seek public comment on the petition and to adopt my amendment seeking comments on whether other requirements are out of date, including the adequacy of the requirements to address e-bikes.