Mr. Dennis S. Chrobak
American Tire Corporation
446 West lake Avenue
Ravenna, OH 44266
Dear Mr. Chrobak:
This responds to your facsimile inquiry of September 10, 1996, in which you stated that you understand that bicycles can lawfully operate on highways without licenses and that bicycles can use tires with inflation pressures of up to 225 psi. You asked whether these statements are true or whether they should be modified.
NHTSA's authority extends to regulation of new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment. "Motor vehicle" is defined in 49 U.S. Code 30102(6) as "a vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power" (emphasis added), and "motor vehicle equipment," such as tires, is defined as "any system, part, or component of a motor vehicle as originally manufactured," or a replacement part or accessory. Thus, since bicycles are propelled by their riders rather than by mechanical power, they do not meet the definition of "motor vehicle." This agency, therefore, has issued no Federal motor vehicle safety standards applicable to bicycles or their equipment, including their tires. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, however, has issued certain requirements for bicycle tires (see Title 16, Code of Federal Regulations, section 1512.10). Any questions about such requirements may be directed to the Office of the General Counsel, Consumer Product Safety Commission, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814, telephone (301) 504-0980.
With respect to licenses, we are not aware of any Federal licensing requirements for bicycles. Some states or political subdivisions may have bicycle licensing requirements, but this agency does not maintain that information. You should contact the Departments of Transportation of the states in which you are interested for such information.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you have any further questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact Walter Myers of my staff at this address or at (202) 366-2992.
Acting Chief Counsel