Monday, July 9, 2007

Update on banning Quick Release Hubs in New Jersey

The Asbury Park Press ran this article in today's paper. I have had conversations with some Bike Shop Owners and Employees about this issue. Some of them had lots of knowledge as well as an opinion but I was surprised by the number of Bike Shop employees that were ignorant of what was going on. I am not sure what changes they are looking to implement. As one Bike Shop owner explained they have not sold the traditional Quick Release bikes in years.

Anyone who has taken a when off of a modern bike knows that the change is not as quick as it used to be. Even though my Specialized Langster has track nuts instead of quick release hubs the will does not come out without applying considerable amount of force. The wheel stays current have stops that will not let the wheel come out unless it is in the right position and enough force is applied.

I am not sure how I feel especially since I ride a bike that does not have quick release hubs. Hovever, if there is a better and safer device out there then it probably should be used. The diagram above is of a Montague CLIX system which is supposed to be an improvement.

Below is the full article from the Asbury Park Press:

Bill to ban common bike hubs draws fire
Posted by the
Asbury Park Press on 07/9/07

New Jersey could become the first state to restrict traditional quick-release hubs on bicycles, a safety measure for children that its legislative sponsor says will save young riders from dangerous and disfiguring accidents.

"I felt we need to take the lead on this and get the manufacturers to do the right thing," said Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty, D-Gloucester, who advocates allowing quick-release hubs only if they're fitted with a secondary retention device so the wheel can't come off by accident. "Bicycles should be safe."

Moriarty's bill passed the Assembly easily June 11 and will be considered in the Senate this fall, but it has raised the ire of bicycle dealers, who contend the legislative language also affects most adult bicycles, despite months of negotiation between the dealers and Moriarty.
As word spread by e-mail and online message groups, cycling advocates are complaining the bill's demand for new secondary safety retainers depends on equipment that's not widely used by the industry. The net outcome, some say, will be to merely make
cyclists shop in Pennsylvania and New York.

"In effect what he's forcing the industry to do is adopt a retention device that's not available yet," said Wally Tunison, owner of the Bicycle Hub shop in Marlboro, who was among people from the cycling community involved in negotiations over the bill. "Well, over 90 percent of my bikes are equipped with quick releases. . . . This will kill us in this state."
Whatever can be done should be focused on children's bicycles, said Virginia Kines of Oxford, Ga., whose son Darrell was 14 when a wheel came off his new bike and threw him face-first onto a parking lot in June 2001.

"Children are not so apt to pay attention and be as experienced as older teenagers and adult cyclists. Even the parents are not aware that they're buying bikes with quick releases," said Kines, a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Wal-Mart and a bicycle importer.

Both supporters of quick-release restrictions and independent cycle shop owners point their fingers at a common foe: Big-box retail stores that sell inexpensive bicycles built overseas.
The New Jersey legislation actually has roots in Marin County, Calif., where eight families of children injured when wheels fell off bicycles brought a lawsuit against Wal-Mart and Dynacraft, a San Rafael-based company that manufactured the bikes in China for the retailer.
The families lost their case in trial court last year and are now appealing, said Kathleen Russell, a public relations consultant to Stop Hurting Our Kids, a group organized to seek redress from Wal-Mart.

"Many times they (bicycles) were sold without manuals or any information that they had quick releases," Russell said. After a flurry of news stories as the trial commenced in December 2005, "we were flooded with e-mails," she said. "We have a sense that this is just the tip of an iceberg."

Moriarty, who is mayor of Washington in Gloucester Township, is a media consultant who worked in television news for 22 years as a consumer affairs reporter. Now he's on the consumer affairs committee in the Assembly and so keeps up his reading on the subject. That's how Moriarty learned that the Marin County case revealed at least 118 reported cases nationally of children being seriously injured when front wheels fell off.

Quick-release hubs are essentially removable axles, with a handle at one end that provides leverage for a rider to dismount a wheel by hand. They were originally marketed to adult touring and competition riders as a handy way to make road repairs with a minimum of tools, shop owners say.

If a quick-release ban covered those adult bikes, "you'd go out for a 20-mile ride and now you're going to carry wrenches," said Kenny Lombard, owner of Padi's Pedal Power in Toms River.

The Marin County court case and other accident reports are prompting some innovation in the bicycle industry. For some 2007 models, Pacific Cycle, maker of Schwinn and Mongoose bicycles, and bicycle maker Trek have started using the CLIX hub system (Bloggers Note: diagram of system is above)marketed by Montague Inventive Technologies of Cambridge, Mass. Inventor David Montague says it's an improvement on the quick-release concept that ensures the wheel is retained if it's not fully tightened.

Cases compiled by Stop Hurting Our Kids typically involved young children riding bicycles when the front wheels came off the hubs. The resulting crashes threw riders over the handlebars, usually onto pavement where they suffered severe cuts, bruises, broken noses and teeth. In the Marin County case, three of the plaintiffs had serious brain injuries.
Independent shop owners contend any safety threat associated with the hubs comes from mass-market bicycles sold by department stores, where the machines are assembled and sold with little or no instruction to the customers.

"They have people come in to build (assemble) the bikes. They get paid by the bike, for $8 to $10 a piece. So a guy comes in and throws together 20 or 30 in a day," Lombard said. "When I'm in those stores and I see someone walking a $160 bike out with flat tires, I have to laugh. If I sold a bike with flat tires, I'd be out of business."

After she was contacted by a lawyer in the California case, Kines said she was so distressed to learn of other accidents that she distributed leaflets in department store parking lots to warn parents about substandard quick releases.

"You get a bicycle, get it for the kids for their birthday or Christmas, that's why I was handing out the leaflets," she said. "I have five grandchildren. I was just afraid someone else would be hurt."

Moriarty says the independent shop owners have a point about poor-quality bicycles. "That is a problem," he said. "The person putting your bike together at a mass retailer is not the same as someone at a speciality bike shop."

But the fact is "quick releases have migrated to all kinds of bicycles," Moriarty said. The problem is less a matter of quality control or dealer service than simple human error that leads to a loose hub, he said, and that's where the secondary clips should come in.
"There's a better technology available, and we should be using it," said Moriarty. He compares this to the long fight over auto safety: "If we left it up to car manufacturers, we wouldn't have seat belts and air bags."

Russell said the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has been looking into the the claims made by Stop Hurting Our Kids, but no action has been taken yet. Moriarty contends state action could prod the commission into doing something; it's been decades since the federal government took a broad look at bicycle safety, he said.

Apart from the Montague CLIX system, secondary wheel retainers are not widely available to the industry, shop owners say. "I don't know of anyone who makes them," said Jack Malysa, who owns Freehold Bicycles. "I sell what you would call adult bikes to teenagers. But if you're talking about youth bikes, with 16- to 20-inch wheels, I don't have any quick releases on those."

Malysa said he's never heard of any trend in injuries from quick releases. About 20 people are killed annually in New Jersey in traffic accidents involving bicycles, but mechanical failures are not a common factor, he said.
Moriarty's bill is A-2686.

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