CPSIA and motorsports: jamming the spokes

by Walter Olson on March 12, 2009

Losses are mounting and anger rising in the world of youth minibikes and powersports, where CPSIA has kept an entire industry shut down for more than a month now, as dealers sit on $100-million-plus inventories now rendered unlawful to sell. Polaris logoOn Sunday the Minneapolis Star-Tribune ran a substantial piece on the CPSIA debacle which focused on motorsports (while also mentioning in passing such disaster areas as thrift stores and kids’ books). The rising outcry is putting Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the hot seat: after taking a prominent role as co-sponsor of the law, she now blames the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the way it’s working out in practice. Aside from the general popularity of kids’ motorsports in Minnesota, ATV manufacturer Polaris, whose Outlaw 50 model was suddenly banned, is headquartered in that state.

On Wednesday the CPSC confirmed that (per its lawyers’ advice) it was turning down an exemption for youth power vehicles, in that it could not certify what the law requires it to certify, namely that keeping them legal would not result in “any” absorption of lead by a person under 12, ever, or any other risk to public safety or health. Cycle News delves into the details here (with a funny picture) and here. Ryan Leyba at ESPN/FMX also surveys the situation in Congress — where they’re refusing to do anything and, like Klobuchar, blaming the CPSC’s lawyers — and quotes one dealer:

“Business was already slow, and now we’re just dead,” says Gus Saba, general manager of Corona Motorsports in Corona, California. “A lot of people want to get back into the sport [ATVs or dirtbikes] with their kids, and if they can’t buy a bike for their kid, they might not buy one for themselves, either. It’s a mess. We can’t order parts, we can’t service anything. We don’t know what’s going to happen; no one can put a timetable on it.”

missouri
Missouri is another state where the minibike community has been hard at work organizing, and the Associated Press, which in general has been a poor place to turn for news on CPSIA, covered the resulting rally in Jefferson City, in an article that got good national pickup. The Missouri House of Representatives has passed a resolution of support. And 2WheelTuesday offers “Stories of a Motocross Generation“: first-person responses to the ban.

Some miscellaneous CPSIA reading: Rick Woldenberg is introducing “our fabulous new Future World Collection of exciting educational materials for the post-CPSIA world. Our products will be lead-free and phthalates-free and in the case of most products, entirely play value-free.” The tongue-in-cheek “catalogue” can be seen here (PDF). At Politico, conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt blasts Congress for its inaction. The Hill covers the Washington wrangling. Punditry by the Pint says “it’s time to repeal this law.” And Scott Greenfield writes, “The Real Risk is the Loss of Childhood Happiness“.

P.S. CPSC has made available videos of its meetings with industry on bicycles and ATVs.

{ 3 trackbacks }

An Explosion of Litigation | OpenMarket.org
03.14.09 at 10:32 am
CPSIA: the countable costs
03.26.09 at 12:15 am
Trojan Horse “Food Safety” Law | OpenMarket.org
04.09.09 at 8:06 pm

{ 6 comments }

1 JT 03.13.09 at 8:37 am

Well, people wanted a quick, easy way to become popular by pretending to care about consumer health and safety issues, didn’t they? There is a consequence of some sort (intended or not) to every action.

2 Happymom4 03.13.09 at 9:28 am

Oh that’s rich!! She will find herself voted out next time unless she manages to do more than sling mud at others!

3 EGarland 03.13.09 at 10:42 am

I note that the attached article identified “valve stems” as one item that contains lead — however, I don’t believe I’ve seen a REGULAR bicycle in recent years that didn’t share this same characteristic — does the CPSIA have an impact on the vast market for childrens bicycles, tricylces, etc? And what about those electrically powered ride-on toys that are so commonly seen in cul-de-sacs across the counrty?

4 Mars Feeney 03.13.09 at 12:57 pm

Industry doesn’t care how the disasters of CPSIA are fixed, they just want them fixed. If they thought the problems were being caused merely by wrong interpretation by the CPSC they would be leading the charge to remove Nord. The fact that they aren’t I think is strong evidence that the problem is in the law itself.

Even if the CPSC were able to except all products that deserve it, the rest would still be left with the ridiculously expensive and inefficient unit testing requirements. The only advantage of unit testing is that all the people put out of work by the CPSIA could be re-employed in testing labs.

The ball is clearly in congress’s court. It’s time they picked it up.

5 Tom 03.13.09 at 8:03 pm

Thanks for your ongoing coverage on the CPSIA! I am so disheartened when I think of all the perfectly usable books, clothes and toys that children will never get to enjoy because of this absurd law.

6 Michael martin 03.13.09 at 9:01 pm

Hey Walter, first of all, thanks for the link to my 2WheelTuesday article, I appreciate it! I agree with a lot of your points in this article, and I appreciate what you are doing to help bring some much needed attention to this issue. This law was too severe to quick and leaves the powersport (more specifically motocross) industry crippled until something is done. Thanks for the great piece, keep up your good work.

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