In our daily work as we deal with bicycle safety, technology and user manuals we come across lots of safety risks. The most frequent ones are published in articles of the leading German special-interest magazines TOUR – Europas Rennrad-Magazin Nr. 1, BIKE – Das Mountainbike Magazin Europas Nr. 1 and E-Bike – Das Pedelec-Magazin to make this information important for the sector accessible to a wider public.
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0Furthermore, bikes used for sporting activities are not included in this standard. This is about to change as new standards are in the making. Colibi and Coliped, the umbrella organisations of the European bike- and component-part-manufacturers, invited the sector’s representatives to a congress in Brussels. Also present was a high-profile panel of experts to discuss the effects of these European standards on the bicycle sector. About 90 representatives of more than 50 manufactuers of bikes and parts had three interesting and informative hours filled with lectures and discussions. Even more regrettable that only two German companies sent their representatives.
Colibi-chairman and congress-patron Rene Takens ended the congress by saying that this interesting and comprehensive topic still caused a lot of confusion when it comes to application and effects of CEN. Nevertheless, it was a sensible impulse for the bicycle sector to start working on answering questions as comprehensive as these.
All in all, four standard specifications have so far resulted from the efforts of the six working groups of the standardization body CEN TC 333 Cycles. And some more are in the making according to Siegfried Neuberger, head of engineering of ZIV, member of CEN’s technical committee. The following standards are about to be published or have just been partly published in the individual countries:
EN 14764 city- and trekkingbikes
EN 14765 children’s bikes
EN 14766 mountainbikes
EN 14781 roadbikes
The „safety requirements and testing proceedures“ dealt with load-carrying parts, Neuberger said. Problems with sharp edges, for example, were not taken into consideration. Also excluded was the sensitive topic of lighting. There are big differences the way European countries are dealing with it. In the course of developing the new standards – the TC started working on them back in 1998 – some compromises had to be made, with brake tests, for example. As in the southern part of Europe mainly track tests were conducted, in Germany, however, machine tests dominated, both test proceedings were included in the new standards – with similar requirements. The tests do not only include maximum braking force under dry conditions, but also under wet. Some special tests are for tracing the decrease in braking force, the so-called fading – especially with disc- and hub-brakes which are susceptible for this.
At the moment, these standards are being translated in the respective languages and have to be implemented as national standards by the individual countries by June 2006. EN 14766 will be replaced by DIN EN 14766 in Germany. Six months after publication, the national standards – DIN 79100 in Germany – have to be withdrawn at the latest.
The spacial validity scope includes all 25 EU-countries, the three EFTA-countries Island, Norway and Switzerland as well as Rumania. The conformity of products due to the CEN-standards will probably eliminate some trade barriers. In the past, it sometimes happened that a container with bikes could not be unloaded in certain coutries because the bicycles had not been tested in a laboratory entitled to conduct the tests according to national standards.
Lawyer Massimo Casini, member of the italian manufacturers association ANCMA (Associazione Nazionale Ciclo Motociclo Accessori), spoke of the new standard specifications as life savers in his lecture. Up to now, a test conducted in one country could have been invalid according to the national standards of the neighbouring country. The new CEN-standards therefore are a means of protecting manufactuers in the countries participating from judicial arbitrariness.
Lawyer M. Casini does consider the new CEN useful not only as a means of increasing legal security in the 29 countries participating, but also as life savers of the bicycle sector and asked manufacturers to work out restrictive instructions for using their products.
However, it does not seem to be as simple as lawyer Casini put it. In a disussion following the lectures, the legal relevance of the standards was controversially discussed. In only very few countries the laws seem to refer directly to standard specifications. By this, they inavitably become a part of jurisdiction. In other countries, also in Germany, standards and laws are connected in parallel and are therefore not binding.
The schedule for the new standards’ introduction and coming into force, i.e. the withdrawal of old national standards, is one thing, the legally relevant point in time is the other. Also this aspect could not be clarified on-site considering the interlocking European and national laws. But to stick to existing standards and just wait until the national standards have been withdrawn, does not seem a good idea either. Eddie Ecclestone, member of the expert panel and European representative of PCM Group/BABG explained quite plausibly that a discussion about the point in time was useless. As soon as the new standards were published, they were state of science and the art according to product liability law and therefore must be considered immediately as courts will revert to them.