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Oregon bill would establish ‘minimum standards’ for bike trailers

Posted by on February 16th, 2011 at 11:44 am

DSC_2508
Under the new law, ODOT would come
up with standards to make sure
this guy stays safe.
(Photo © J. Maus)

A new bill set for introduction in the Oregon legislature would establish minimum construction standards for bicycle trailers sold in Oregon. The bill is currently in draft form (PDF here) and is expected to be introduced publicly next week. Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) is the lead sponsor of the bill and he told me this morning he’s already got several others signed onto it — including Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland).

As it stands now, the bill would direct the Oregon Department of Transportation to adopt a set of rules “establishing minimum standards for bicycle trailers designed for human passengers.” The bill also states that ODOT would consult the existing ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) specifications for bicycle trailers in forming their standards.

“This is a way we can improve safety for our kids, I think it’s a much better approach.”
— Floyd Prozanski, Oregon State Senator

The bill would also prohibit the retail sale of trailers that don’t meet the new standards. If you purchase a trailer that doesn’t conform to the standards, the bill says, “the department [ODOT] may bring a civil action to recover actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater, against the person that sold the bicycle trailer to the individual.”

I spoke with Sen. Prozanski about the bill this morning.

Prozanski says the idea for the bill came after the “fallout” from Greenlick’s HB 2228, which seeks to ban children under six from being carried upon or towed behind a bicycle. That bill is dead, but its introduction started some conversations in Salem about how to address the safety of children in bike trailers. Acknowledging that Greenlick’s approach to this issue was flawed, Prozanski says HB 2228 inspired him to have a conversation with Burley about the safety of bicycle trailers.

“Wouldn’t you feel bad if you got a trailer from a box store for $100 and found out it wasn’t even crash-worthy?”
— Floyd Prozanski

Burley is based in Prozanski’s district and is one of the largest sellers of bicycle trailers in the world. “They brought to my attention,” Prozanski said, “that there were no standards in Oregon for trailers sold for passenger use. They explained how all their trailers meet the ASTM specifications for crash-worthiness… They said if you really want to take care of safety, you should have a standard that all trailers sold in this state need to meet.”

According to Prozanski, he has learned that some retailers in Oregon sell trailers intended for carrying children that do not meet the ASTM standards. “Wouldn’t you feel bad if you got a trailer from a box store for $100 and found out it wasn’t even crash-worthy?”

Given that Burley is a homegrown Oregon company (although they no longer manufacture their products here like they used to), Prozanski says his bill could also come with an economic boost. “You could say this is economic development as well, because it would take this stuff [that doesn't meet safety standards] off the market.”

And, just in case you’re wondering, you can keep using your existing trailer. The law only targets retailers selling new products. The new law would go into effect January 2012, in order to give retailers time to sell through any existing inventory that doesn’t meet the new standards.

So far, other legislators signed onto the bill include Greenlick, former Burley employee and now House Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Eugene), and Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton).

As for the bill introduced by Greenlick that caused a storm around the state, Prozanski says his bill, “Gets to the intent” that Greenlick was going for. “This is a way we can improve safety for our kids, I think it’s a much better approach.”

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  • Dennis February 16, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Does this mean that I have to scrap my current Burley Trailer? it seems somewhat wasteful to me.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 16, 2011 at 11:53 am

      Absolutely not. Just added a sentence to clarify. This would only target retailers selling new product starting Jan 2012.

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    • JIM R February 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Only new trailers acc. to article.

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    • Chas February 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      Burley child trailers have been ASTM certified since the 70s.

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  • Andrew Kreps February 16, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Wondering aloud: Has there ever been an injury directly attributable to a trailer not meeting safety expectations?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 16, 2011 at 11:54 am

      Prozanski mentioned that in talks with Burley they told him there are cases where crappy trailers have exploded on impact and led to injury, but I haven’t substantiated any specific cases.

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      • velvetackbar February 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm

        Did they offer data?

        The plural of anecdote is not data.

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  • Tomas Quinones February 16, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Ah Government. Fixing yet another problem that is completely made up in their heads. Can we please see the scientific data to justify the need for such a bill?

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    • jacob February 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      I agree.

      Next we’ll need roll cages and 5 point harnesses on sleds.

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    • boneshaker February 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      Yes, i agree. Let’s look at what causes unnatural child mortality…
      Motor vehicle 8.5%
      Suffocation/Strangulation 1.4%
      Drowning 1.3%
      Poisoning 1%
      Fire/Burn 0.6%
      Firearm 0.2%
      source: http://www.childdeathreview.org/nationalchildmortalitydata.htm

      What are the figures for exploding child bike trailers? Did Mr. Prozanski or Greenlick mention what they are doing to reduce child mortality for these causes?

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    • Katie February 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      I agree– this is, once again, a solution looking for a problem. So many things actually need work in Oregon. Why does this matter need legislation?

      I’m all for protecting Oregon’s kids through good legislation. But let’s spend time and energy to protect them from things that are actually harmful.

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  • Travis A. Wittwer February 16, 2011 at 11:57 am

    While this is a good idea, and I would not argue the safety of children (we do it for cars and helmets and drinking), it raises the idea that if strict standards are adopted, to what extent will it affect innovation; ideas; even cargo bikes?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm

      Travis,

      You’re not the only one w/ that concern.. I asked Prozanski about it and he said the standards will be specifically targeted to trailers (not cargo bikes) that are made to carry passengers.

      That being said, we should track and monitor the ODOT committee tasked w/ coming up with these standards to make sure that they are not overly restrictive and/or over-reaching. We’ll have more information and follow-up as necessary.

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      • John Lascurettes February 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm

        Is a tag-a-long considered a trailer?

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      • matt picio February 16, 2011 at 2:07 pm

        Ok, so here’s the real question. Who certifies that the trailers meet whatever standards are put into place, and what fees will that entail? This has the potential to harm up-and-coming manufacturers while protecting established companies like Burley. I don’t have anything against Burley, but depending on how the bill is written and implemented, it could’ve stopped a company like Burley when they were just getting started.

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        • wsbob February 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm

          Since it’s a state law being proposed, a state agency would likely be assigned the task of reviewing all the passenger carrying bike trailer models proposed for sale in Oregon, to see that they met the agreed upon standards. So ‘How much would that cost a trailer manufacturer.’, is a good question to have Prozanski and Greenlick get an answer to.

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  • Oliver February 16, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Safety from what? Can’t see any possible spec that will protect the occupant from motor vehicle impact, or deceleration forces experienced by car baby-seats.

    However, I’ve never been in the market for one of these things so I haven’t seen the quality of the low-price competitors. Maybe they just come apart?

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  • 9watts February 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Exploded on impact?! That doesn’t sound like a good design.
    Dominant firms like (this kind of) regulation because it allows them to increase market share.

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  • Dan O February 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    But no standard for the bikes themselves?

    Still more busybody nonsense from people who don’t know what they’re talking about and think kids shouldn’t travel by bike.

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    • Opus the Poet February 17, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      There are 40 some-odd pages of standards for bicycles at the federal level, plus different standards in every state (most are quite similar, but nobody quite comes up with the same definition of what a bicycle even is, and many states definitions are such that recumbents are not legally bicycles. In some states the laws are such that any human-powered vehicle with fewer than 4 wheels is a bicycle, others have no such limitation on the number of wheels, others limit it to 2 and even exclude wheels less than 20″ (which includes almost every kids bike, the wheels on a 20″ tire are either 16″ or 17 3/4″) which makes adult folding bikes something of an enigma…

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  • Johnnie Olivan February 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I would like to know more details about the required design…. Mandatory roll cage with bucket seat safety belts would save some lives…

    Does this mean people cannot build their own bike trailers for their own kids unless it passes code?

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    • wsbob February 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      Follow the link in the story, to the ASTM website:

      It provides a brief abstract of the actual 8-16pg document. From the abstract:

      “…It includes methods for strength, impact drop, structural integrity in rollover, tipover resistance, single-occupant trailer, double-occupant trailer, coupling security, and system fatigue tests. The tests confirm that this specification is satisfied. The specification also prescribes colors, reflectors, and flags for conspicuity. …” ASTM specs for passenger carrying bike trailers

      I think this is a step in the right direction, so good one for Prozanski and Greenlick. If more and more people are going to be transporting kids around in bike trailers..which looks to be happening…efforts need to be made to insure this type conveyance is safe and up to the demands of conditions where they’ll be used.

      A bill like this one can set a baseline for quality of construction, and broaden public awareness of bike trailer structural integrity and relative safety. It could help introduce and guide future innovation that may allow passenger carrying bike trailers to provide their occupants with such things as greater crash protection and resistance to deceleration forces that Oliver brought up some comments back.

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  • Bob_M February 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I know for a fact that they can tip over if cornering fast. That is something that standards can regulate.

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  • Shane February 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Doesn’t sound like it will address cargo-bikes or trail-a-bikes? A larger and larger portion of families are choosing these modes as well.
    Will read through the bill before passing too much judgement.

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  • beth h February 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I think that if such a bill passes, most of the fallout will affect the big-box stores that sell steel-framed, cheaply-made dreck. Most independent bike shops sell established brands (like Burley and Chariot) that adhere to much higher safety standards and would almost certainly pass muster under this proposal.

    My concern is that, once the state reaches this far into the realm of child transportation by bicycle, how far behind can more invasive legislation be that actually targets parents transporting their kids? I am concerned this could create a slippery slope in terms of the state’s reach into private life.

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  • q`Tzal February 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    While I’d love to live in a society where we don’t need any manufacturing standards or regulation our legal system has proven time and again that the only thing that that produces worse (less safe/dangerous) products for the end user than no rules is complete prohibition. See war on drugs and alcohol prohibition.

    Perhaps if assume that enough logic and rationality has persuaded Greenlick that an outright ban would produce the opposite affect than desired he would perhaps later see, after an impartial study, that the only way to make bicycle trailers statistically safer is to limit the hazardous actions and behaviors of auto drivers.

    Not to say there won’t be junk shipped in from China that falls apart of its own free will under speed with a child in it.
    I am just of the scientifically unbacked opinion that data will show that injuries to bike trailer occupants will in the majority have been cause by autos and that the only reliable preventative measure is a rear facing 50-caliber weapon.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Several people have asked about about how start-up companies might be impacted. The way I read it so far, if you build a trailer meant for carrying humans and then attempt to sell it, you would have to comply with the new standards. Johnnie Olivan, I think you should definitely get ready to possibly testify once this bill gets rolling.

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  • 9watts February 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    The way I read it so far, if you build a trailer meant for carrying humans and then attempt to sell it, you would have to comply with the new standards.

    And don’t for a minute think that will be inexpensive to do.

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  • Rebecca February 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Not that this is a horrible idea, but it sounds to me like they’re still coming at the issue from the wrong angle.

    I’d rather see them working on legislation that would make family cycling safer by making the streets safer – say, by granting local control over residential street speed limits.

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    • wsbob February 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm

      Making streets safer, which many people, agencies, municipalities, etc., are involved in on an ongoing basis, doesn’t preclude a vehicle bumping into a bike trailer loaded with kids, or some shoddy built bike trailer falling apart going down the road. With increasing numbers of kids being hauled about in trailers, the odds of this type of incident happening, increases.

      If you believe there is a problem with this bill over-reaching in some way, perhaps you have an example to offer? As it stands currently, the bill doesn’t seem to propose much that would cause the cost of bike trailers to rise. It’s only asking manufacturers to have construction of their products conform to current, ASTM safety standards. So far, no one commenting here has determined and reported that the effort to conform to those standards would represent a major cost adjustment for manufacturers of bike trailers, or even what such a cost might be.

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  • Matt Haughey February 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    The cynical side of me sees this as a clear gift to one of the biggest tax payers in this representative’s district; a thank you gift to get cheapo trailers out of WalMarts and Fred Meyers and help bolster more Burley sales

    (and I say this as a happy multi-owner of Burley trailers, which are built very well and I trusted them with my kids’ safety)

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  • velvetackbar February 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    yeah, I am not comfortable with this:

    One company gets The Lege to outlaw its competitors without the presentation of empirical data — although said data may be forthcoming, its not here yet.

    This sounds like a bit of backscratching going on. Just how many trailer products produced outside of Oregon would be allowed to be sold in Oregon?

    That said, I owned a Burley for years and it was a great trailer. No denying that they are quality, but I get nervous whenever The Lege outlaws something based upon the “explosion” reports of an company with a vested interest in this new law.

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  • kgb February 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    So this is the second bill to address the phantom menace of bicycle trailer safety. How many bills have been proposed to address distracted driving?

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  • CaptainKarma February 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I might say umm, ok, but to meet the spec, trailer must be manufactured in the USA, not e.g., the Phillipines. Buy (truly) local.

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  • q`Tzal February 16, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    While I’d love to live in a society where we don’t need any manufacturing standards or regulation our legal system has proven time and again that the only thing that that produces worse (less safe/dangerous) products for the end user than no rules is complete prohibition. See war on drugs and alcohol prohibition.

    Perhaps if we assume that enough logic and rationality has persuaded Greenlick that an outright ban would produce the opposite results than desired he would perhaps later see, after an impartial study, that the only way to make bicycle trailers statistically safer is to limit the hazardous actions and behaviors of auto drivers.

    Not to say there won’t be junk shipped in from China that falls apart of its own free will under speed with a child in it.
    I am just of the scientifically unbacked opinion that data will show that injuries to bike trailer occupants will in the majority have been cause by autos.

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  • Gabriel Amadeus February 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    This is obviously a direct attack on Chariot Wars competitors!

    http://chariotwars.blogspot.com/

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  • Jack February 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    “The law only targets retailers selling new products. The new law would go into effect January 2012, in order to give retailers time to sell through any existing inventory that doesn’t meet the new standards.”

    December 2011: Closeout super sale on all trailers deemed not safe for your children! Let’s get as many of these unsafe trailers on the road before it’s too late!

    …If the real concern is safety, the state should be banning the use of unfit trailers and using public funds to reimburse manufacturers, retailers and owners for their losses. Not saying they should do this, but should ‘safety’ come before ‘fair’?

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    • Jack February 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      …and before anyone flips about paying about public funds to buy new, safer trailers for people, consider that we somehow decided to do exactly that for TV converter boxes!

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      • are February 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm

        where’s mine

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  • Julian February 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Are you sure it needs to be a retailer selling new product? The draft just says “person” selling a ‘bicycle trailer.”

    Because I’m imagining a lucrative future buying up used trailers that weren’t ASTM-certified, or were but are missing a reflector or flag, BAM, sue for $1,000 plus reasonable fees, KAPOW, do that a few times and I can afford a Christiania or Nihola tricycle, MWAH HAH HAH, now I’ve got my kids in a *tricycle* and none of this and future clumsy, self-serving legislative *bicycle* over-reaches will apply to me and mines!

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  • PomPilot February 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Why do I have a nagging feeling (if a federal entity complained) that the 9th circus court would rule the whole thing an unconstitutional violation of the interstate commerce clause? Thus negating (as yet) untold seconds of state legislative time that could be put to better use.

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  • Brent February 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Please, Oregon, whatever you do, make it sensible, as this standard will probably end up being the de facto regulation for trailers sold in all states.

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  • michael downes February 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    If there is already an ASTM standard for trailers why are the big box stores allowed to sell non ASTM products? Surely regulation and enforcement should done at a national level to make any sense?

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    • are February 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      you would need congress to act on this, which would probably include authorizing some money for regulation and enforcement. probably not happen just now. also, question, do we really want absolutely everything to be legislated at the federal level? why don’t we just dismantle the states? if we wanted to have stricter standards here, should we not be permitted to have them unless john boehner approves?

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  • DK February 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Mother nature has already thought ahead enough to provide reasonable protection for the world’s young.

    …Called parents!

    We’re still hanging around 10% unemployment, so stop wasting valuable legsilative time on common-sense topics and do some real work.

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  • ron February 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    ugh! More wasted time. What problem are they trying to solve?

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    • Perry Hunter February 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      The problem of how to create “pro-children” bona fides for a few holders of political office before November?

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  • Chas February 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    So we want regulations on toys to not contain lead, pajamas can’t contain pthalates and baby bottles can’t contain BPA. Baby cribs can’t have pinch-points, high chairs can’t allow a childs head to poke through the back rest and stollers can’t collapse accidently but we’re okay with a child trailer to be sold without a single safety regulation.

    That doesn’t make any sense.

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  • RoadShare February 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    If cyclists want more respect and safety out on the streets — to be treated as serious transportation, not just as a form of recreation, they need to get ready for more regulation. Think about automobiles and motorcycles. They are licensed and as part of that process is an inspection system to ensure that certain safety requirements are met before they can legally be driven/ridden on the street. This will be part of the future for bicycles as well.

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  • Todd Boulanger February 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    If this discussion moves forward…I would add another vehicle type to the discussion: motorized wheelchairs.

    I am seeing a lot of electric wheelchairs utilizing bike lanes and streets due to the simple fact that our sidewalk facilities are often very poor for ADA mobility. But sadly, most of the these chairs do not have adequate reflectivity nor operating lights for street use at any speed. Many of the newer chairs travel at up a typical bike speed. Many users struggle to try to enhance their visibility to traffic with hi-viz vests, hats, tape, and blinky lights.

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  • Ted Buehler February 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    So, if the state can ban the sale of piece-of-crap trailers from Wal Mart, can they also ban the sale of piece-of-crap bikes? I’d love to see Huffy, Magnas and Roadmasters banned. And any other brand that is likely to fall apart within two miles of the store…

    Are there ATSM standards for bikes?

    Just curious — it’s a new topic for me.
    Ted Buehler

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  • Brent February 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    @Ted Buehler:

    I believe the state can ban the sale of anything it wants, provided such ban doesn’t run afoul of constitutional principles.

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  • J_R February 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    According to the Federal Highway Administration statistics from 2008 (the latest year available), there were six (6) children “pedalcyclists” (their term) killed in the entire country.

    http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811156.PDF

    Contrast that with 10,839 alcohol-related fatalities in 2009, including 115 in Oregon alone.

    http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811363.pdf

    Let’s focus on the issues that can provide some real benefit. How about random sobriety tests, for example?

    I’m all for safe trailers and I’m a real fan of Burley (we still use a Nomad cargo trailer), but I have mixed feelings about the bill. Basically, I’m reluctant to keep some folks from pulling their kids around the neighborhood in a cheaper, less good trailer if they don’t feel like they can afford a more-expensive, better-made, safer trailer.

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  • Marcus Griffith February 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I support minimal safety standards for bike trailers, just like I support consumer protection standards for car seats, chairs and kis toys. However, I do not support using the pretext of safety standards to deter using child trailers.

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    • wsbob February 16, 2011 at 8:43 pm

      This bill’s intent is reasonable enough that it stands a good chance of being passed into law.

      I think so, because child carrying trailers being towed down the road by their parents on a bike probably strikes a very deep emotional response of interest and concern on the part of many people walking, riding, and driving by that happen to see kids being transported this way.

      If and when this bill, or one like it at some point, does pass into law, the next logical step, will be for people to take a very careful look at just what level of design and construction…that isn’t being used currently…, should be built into a child carrying trailer for it to be adequately safe for the level and type of traffic the trailers will be used in.

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  • Eric in Seattle February 16, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    So, did I miss something? Has there been a big uptick in deaths or injuries related to bike trailers? Is there any data at all to support the notion that this is worth anybody’s time and trouble? Seriously, how about doing something abou speeders or distracted drivers?

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  • Joe Rowe February 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Get back to work Salem. You all said the last election was about Jobs, Jobs and Jobs.

    There is no data about exploding trailers harming a single child. The marketing from Salem keeps changing like the wind. One day they want to start a dialog, next they want to keep kids safe from cheap K-Mart trailers.

    They might as well ban all cheap stuff from Wal-mart and k-Mart and Target. I bet more kids die from cheap Target home shelving that collapses when it can’t support the weight of all the cheap stuff it’s holding.

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    • wsbob February 17, 2011 at 12:59 am

      Not too many parents seem to be carrying their kids around behind their bike on Target home shelving. But alright…if you and the others that consider this bill to be a waste of time…propose a better idea for a bill.

      It’s been about 4 weeks since Greenlick proposed his misguided approach to achieving greater safety for kids being transported by bike. A lot of people expressing their views to this website didn’t think that approach was so hot. How many of those people, with their criticism of Greenlick’s bill proposal, offered real, worthy suggestions for better bike related bills he might devote his time as a State Representative, to work on? Very few.

      If Oregon bike advocates aren’t getting the advances in bike related legislative action they’d like to see, it’s looking as though it’s not because they’re elected reps aren’t working; based on numerous comments posted here on bikeportland, it’s looking as though the action isn’t happening, because citizen bike advocates aren’t bothering to help their legislators with even so much as a suggestion as to what realistic improvements in bike related law they should be seeking.

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      • Brent February 17, 2011 at 10:39 am

        How about this: instead of mandating standards, mandate stickers. The stickers would disclose that the trailer meets or doesn’t meet some privately-established standard, such as the ASTM. If the sticker is incorrect, there would be penalties for false disclosure.

        This way, Oregon doesn’t get into the muck of standards, but also satisfies whatever desires it has to protected children in trailers.

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        • wsbob February 17, 2011 at 11:32 pm

          Maybe not instead of, but in addition to, informational stickers and informational messages on packages could do much to heighten the public’s awareness of issues involved in achieving greater levels of safety in transporting kids by bike trailer.

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  • resopmok February 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Going to agree that at best, this is a solution in search of a problem and at worst, coddling a company to help them increase their market share in an ever more competitive market. Despite claims to the contrary, I don’t believe this is for the safety and interest of the child passengers. It’s about making Greenlick happy that something is being done about his (ridiculous) concerns and about making Burley more money. We waste our time and money on things like this and continue to wonder why oh why does our country seem to be in a downward spiral..

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    • wsbob February 17, 2011 at 1:16 am

      “…Going to agree that at best, this is a solution in search of a problem and at worst, coddling a company to help them increase their market share in an ever more competitive market. …” resopmonk

      That conclusion borders on the ridiculous; chicken little stuff. Just in case you seriously don’t think the conclusion you’ve come to is ridiculous, go ahead and offer something about how the changes represented by the Prozanski/Greenlick bill would so seriously disadvantage child carrying bike trailer manufacturers that Burley would experience some kind of great market windfall.

      What changes in materials, production procedures, application and testing periods possibly associated with the passage of a bill of this kind, do you imagine would be so great an adjustment, that the key cheap labor manufacturing outsource resources such as China, Bangladesh, parts of India, wouldn’t be able to easily make the adjustments to still sell a product at far less than Burley has to charge for what it sells?

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  • Katie February 17, 2011 at 10:20 am

    I think this bill is silly, and I dislike that it makes riding with kids in trailers seem unsafe when there is no data to back that up.

    But if the point is to prevent a phantom flood of radically sub-par Burley knock-offs from flooding the market once Oregon decides that all kids should go by bike, than I’d suggest some sort of exclusion for home-built trailers and small production runs.

    It is important (especially in this economy) to protect innovators, and while compliance with basic standards may not be expensive, certifying that compliance almost certainly will be. So let’s exclude one-offs, and any model of which fewer than, say, 250 has been produced. That should allow an innovator to make some money in the early stages of business, and deal with certification red tape later.

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    • wsbob February 17, 2011 at 11:24 am

      What isn’t silly to consider about many bike trailers used to transport kids, is that typically, the occupant’s heads are relatively low to the ground; near about the height of a car’s bumper to the ground.

      Meanwhile, the heads of the people riding the bikes that pull the trailer, are much further up above the ground; higher even then the heads of drivers of many cars on the road.

      These are basic safety considerations to which regulatory laws could be used to encourage trailer manufacturers to gradually introduce safer trailer designs accordingly.

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      • 9watts February 17, 2011 at 11:28 am

        “These are basic safety considerations to which regulatory laws could be used to encourage trailer manufacturers to gradually introduce safer trailer designs accordingly.”
        wsbob – what are you suggesting? Whose head elevation are you proposing to change with these regulations, and why?
        I thought the statistic posted earlier comparing fatalities from drunk driving and involving children transported by bike were pretty clear. Notwithstanding what may *seem* unsafe, so far we seem to have fared remarkably well.

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        • wsbob February 17, 2011 at 11:58 am

          “…Whose head elevation…? …” 9watts

          It’s the kids’, i.e., “…the occupant’s…” head elevation I was referring to.

          “…so far we seem to have fared remarkably well. …” 9watts

          Who is “…we…”? I’ve no idea how old you are, but I think it can be safely assumed you’re older than 6 years old. If there haven’t yet been any catastrophic accidents involving various types of vehicles bumping into or plowing into a trailer carrying a child…that’s a blessing.

          In terms of the rate at which bike trailers are used to transport kids, many people believe that rate is increasing; in other words, many more people are starting to grab on to the idea that traveling by bike and carrying a kid behind it in a trailer is a great idea. This translates to greater numbers of bike trailers in the transportation mode mix, and an increased potential for collisions. So it seems to me that modest regulations guiding the design and construction of child carrying bike trailers is good foresight.

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          • 9watts February 17, 2011 at 12:05 pm

            I’m almost the same age as Jonathan. I agree that as mode share of bike trailers hauling kids increases we need to account for that in our statistics, but the overwhelming (1800:1) ratio of alcohol related deaths to child pedalcyclist’s deaths does seem skewed when this bill is ostensibly about child safety.
            How about a vehicular manslaughter law as a way to protect child safety?

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  • annefi February 17, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Is the kid in the picture Joe Kurmaskie’s youngest? It sure looks like one of his guys.

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  • Velvetackbar February 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    wsbob

    . How many of those people, with their criticism of Greenlick’s bill proposal, offered real, worthy suggestions for better bike related bills he might devote his time as a State Representative, to work on? Very few.

    Sure! A comprehensive vehicular manslaughter bill would be nice.

    Lowering speed limits to 20 would keep EVERYONE safer: peds, driver and riders.

    Require actual drivers ed. Like classrooms and wheeltime, and have that be renewed ever 20 years.

    3feet while passing would be nice.

    Then look at the actual causes of child-hood death, and see what to improve there:

    How about funding universal healthcare for everyone under 18? That would save a LOT of lives.

    How about removing poisons from the market in Oregon? That would save even *MORE* lives.

    This is a bill looking for a problem. I have yet to see any “explosions” of bike trailers.

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    • wsbob February 17, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      Those are good enough ideas to work towards, but with the exception of the ’3 foot rule’, which I believe Oregon already has a law which approximates it, the other things on your list are broader sweeping things than state legislators actually work on as regular business.

      I think people are missing the point that the bill isn’t concerned solely with making sure bike trailers are built so they won’t fall apart on the road with a kid riding in them. The bill would also address the general safety of bike trailers, from other vehicles on the road.

      That’s where state required standards on enhanced visibility and impact resistance could improve the safety of bike trailers. Presently, for visibility…what besides a rear reflector or blinky, is a child carrying bike trailer required to display? Nothing. If I’m wrong about this, feel free to correct me.

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  • jim February 17, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    If NASCAR built bike trailers they could crash at 200 mph and walk away fine

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    • Opus the Poet February 18, 2011 at 8:21 am

      And there would be no problem with it being in wrecks because it would weigh 3500 pounds. Unfortunately bike trailers have this minor problem of having to be light enough to tow behind a bicycle with 50+ pounds of kid(s) inside. I have no doubt that a trailer could be built to withstand impact with a motor vehicle doing 35 MPH (current motor vehicle standard). However that trailer would then weigh as much as a motor vehicle. That’s the issue here, whether to make something that can allow the occupants to survive a wreck with a motor vehicle or to change the laws so that hitting a child trailer becomes a crime. Think of the children! Think of the installed base (trailers in use now), and ask, “Would stronger laws against hitting child trailers cost more than requiring all existing child trailers to be scrapped (because the bill as written would prevent the sale of used trailers)?” In the former case the costs are borne by everyone, in the latter case the costs fall directly on the parents. I know which one I would choose, and my youngest just turned 30. Motor vehicles kill, make motor vehicle operators pay.

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  • Opus the Poet February 17, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    OK I have seen EXACTLY ONE child-carrying bike trailer malfunction, a quick-release failed and the wheel folded under the trailer causing it to slide cock-eyed behind the bike for a few feet. The child was un-injured and consumed by a giggling fit when the “ride” was over. This was one of the more expensive “Big-Box” brands of trailers as I recall, but it was several years ago so I can’t say which one it was. The trailer was repaired by adding a drop of lube to the quick-release and un-folding the wheel from under the trailer and making sure the wheel was secure before continuing.

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  • GlowBoy February 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I’m pretty indifferent to this legislation. Not opposed to it, but I can think of more important things for us to do. Velvetackbar’s got a pretty good list there.

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  • Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie February 17, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Hey J, thanks for featuring Matteo in the trailer photo. and for the record he is the third of four pint-sized metal cowboys, I know we are mad I tell you, having four boys, but we weren’t doing anything else but parenting so… on topic, this is definitely an answer looking for a problem. My Chariot trailer has never malfunctioned, , we have the younger ones strapped in and wearing helmets and the older boys learning good safe biking techniques… and we, like every parent i know, does their best while on their bikes to keep their kids safe. Creating safer conditions, complete streets and scalable, livable communities that put people first should be legislative priority here.

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    • wsbob February 18, 2011 at 12:02 am

      “…Creating safer conditions, complete streets and scalable, livable communities that put people first should be legislative priority here. …” Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie

      Not that they aren’t already priorities, but those things are infrastructure that can take years…decades…to acheive.

      Meanwhile, somewhere in Oregon, everyday some parents are taking their kids around in a bike trailer towed behind a bike. The parents are responsible for the safety of their kids in the trailers, but the other road users, especially those driving big, heavy motor vehicles, also bear some of that responsibility.

      They have the responsibility to avoid hitting somebody’s child carrying bike trailer that hasn’t been adequately made visible with display placards or lighting. Why not make it easier on those road users by enhancing bike trailer visibility? Besides the minimal bike lighting requirements, is there any bike trailer specific visibility requirements? Maybe there is and I haven’t heard.

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      • Chas February 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

        ASTMF-1975-09 5.5.2 Reflectors: ….. at least one red on the back and one on each wheel.

        And then goes on to say in 5.5.2.2: Nothing in this specification is intended to suggest that placing reflectors or lights on a trailer make the trailer safe to operate at night or in darkress.

        5.5.3 is all about the flag requirements.

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        • wsbob February 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm

          The ASTM criteria could be enhanced, changed, or a different standard entirely, could be adopted to achieve greater safety in child carrying bike trailers.

          Technology in lighting has seen great advances in recent years. Unlike bikes alone, bike trailers generally have a broad rear surface area that allow the display of a much larger than typically sized bike light. Bike trailers could easily and practically display a tail light of 20 or more square inches. LED’s and LiOn batteries could allow the tail light to be bright.

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  • J_Ryde February 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I’m not too worried. I’m pretty sure I’ve already met the proposed safety requirements. We’ve already done all the field testing… http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4019/4355223703_fecc33baf2.jpg

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