Tim Schewe

Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: Those bike racks could get you a fine

When 4 bikes loaded they obstruct the view of the rear licence plate, brake lights and turn signals

By Tim Schewe

“I have a question about rear hitch mounted bike racks which are readily available in stores. We use one with four bikes on it for our family and when the four bikes are loaded they obstruct the view of the rear licence plate, brake lights and turn signals. The corner lights can be seen through the spokes of the bike wheels but not clearly. Any opinion on this because these are widely used?”

You seem to have described the problems associated with this type of bicycle carrier clearly yourself.

The Motor Vehicle Act Regulations say the following:

General maintenance

4.04 (2) Lamps and reflectors required by this Division

(c) must not be shielded, covered or obscured by any part of the vehicle or load or by dirt or other material.

Lights and reflectors on the rear of the vehicle must be mounted as far apart as practicable.

The hazard might be greatest during the day when bright sunlight coupled with this obstruction prevents the brake or signal lights from being visible to a driver following you. The resulting rear end collision would certainly be considered to be at least partially your fault.

With regard to the licence plate:

Plates to be unobstructed

3.03 A number plate must be kept entirely unobstructed and free from dirt or foreign material, so that the numbers and letters on it may be plainly seen and read at all times and so that the numbers and letters may be accurately photographed using a speed monitoring device or traffic light safety device prescribed under section 83.1 of the Act.

In order for enforcement by intersection safety cameras to be effective, the rear licence plate of the vehicle must be able to be photographed. When they are not, the driver of the vehicle may be issued a violation ticket with a penalty of $230. It appears that police currently issue about 100 of these tickets each year in B.C.

Before you scrap the rack or sell it to some other unsuspecting purchaser, it could easily be made legal again. Moving the licence plate to the back of it along with duplicating the lights that are obstructed on the vehicle would not be expensive or difficult to do.

It appears that these solutions may be purchased online for less than the cost of the obstructed plate fine. Unfortunately, what is not clearly stated with these is if they are compliant with the rules and are marked accordingly with the appropriate DOT codes. You may wish to buy from a reputable vendor so that the item can be returned for refund if it is improper.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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