The Truth About Peloton's Treadmill Controversy

If you own a Peloton treadmill and have young children or pets, now may be a good time to set the device aside or move it somewhere less accessible, because the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (or CPSC) has issued what it considers to be an "urgent warning" about the product. The CPSC says it has received several reports of small children and pets being injured beneath the Peloton Tread+, and it "is aware of 39 incidents, including one death." 

The incidents involve being trapped, pinned, or pulled under the rear roller of the exercise device, and this can happen when the Trade+ is being used — not just when a child or pet is able to get to the gadget without any supervision. If you own a Tread+ and want to keep using it, the CPSC advises you to keep the device in a locked room to prevent children and pets from getting near it. And if a Tread+ isn't used, the CPSC suggests unplugging the device and storing its safety key in a separate location. The CPSC's warning came out early Saturday (via The Washington Post). 

Peloton's running machine was first sold as the "Tread" in 2018, and renamed the Tread+ at the end of 2020. The New York Times, which reviewed the device, called it an "impressive, fun-to-use machine" with a solid fitness program. The equipment comes with a 32-inch tablet that streams live and on-demand workouts that include running, walking, cardio, and strength training.

Peloton and the CPSC are at odds over the Tread+

The Washington Post says the battle over the Tread+'s safety record took place away from the spotlight, since the company and federal regulators were trying to hammer out the details of a consumer alert that highlights the dangers of the device. Peloton is said to be deeply unhappy with the way the CPSC's warning was framed. The company said it "cares deeply about the safety of its Members" and said there was no reason to stop using the device "as long as all warnings and safety instructions are followed." The company further emphasizes that children under 16 should not be using the treadmill, and that children, pets, and objects must be kept away from the device "at all times." 

The CPSC's concerns were triggered by reports that victims were pulled under the machines and had experienced both broken bones and head trauma. As one safety official put it to The Washington Post, "This doesn't happen with other treadmills. It is a different hazard pattern than is typically seen." Peloton, for its part, insists that a recall isn't necessary. In its review of the device, The New York Times reported that the device could have been considered a proper gym replacement — if it hadn't been for its eyewatering price tag which crossed the $4,000 mark, as well as a far from desirable warranty. 

There appears to be a more compelling reason to stay off the Tread+, at least for now.