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.
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.”