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Zip lines spread as the rides soar in popularity.

The high-speed elevated cable rides that promise an adrenaline rush have grown in number from 10 to more than 200 since 2001, experts say. And now comes the zip line — an elevated cable ride that zips harnessed riders downhill at high speeds, powered only by gravity. The craze is fueled by a resurgence in the popularity of outdoor activities, greater availability of insurance, and cheaper construction costs for zip line platforms due to the housing slump, according to builders and operators.In addition, builders and operators point out, zip lines have wide appeal to both young and old.
 
The only physical demand is the climb up the steps of the platforms, where guests wearing harnesses are hooked to a pulley that allows them to travel along the zip lines' steel cable, with typical speeds reaching 35 to 45 mph and faster. The most advanced zip lines have built-in brakes. On the basic models, riders must slow themselves with a gloved hand.Like roller skating and paintball battles, the promise of an adrenaline rush draws many first-time riders.
 
The ASTM has previously drafted safety rules for helmets, medical devices and steel products. The work began two years ago, and officials estimate that the voluntary rules could be drafted in the next year or two.In the meantime zip line operators said they are relying primarily on safety standards written by the Association for Challenge Course Technology, an Illinois group that began writing guidelines in 1994 primarily for zip lines and rope courses used by churches, Boy Scouts and schools, among other private groups.
 
 

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