Tickets for rear bike racks seem unfair, say some Calgary cyclists

Some Calgary cyclists feel like they are being unfairly targeted for driving around with a bike rack on the back of their vehicles. They racks can obscure the licence plate and lead to a $155 fine.

But police say law is clear, licence plates must be clearly visible at all times

Kevin Eklund is warning others that their rear bike rack may land them a $155 fine for obscuring any part of their licence plate. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Kevin Eklund wants to warn other cyclists that their rear bike rack could land them a $155 fine. 

About a week ago, police pulled over the 34-year-old cyclist in downtown Calgary because they said his bike rack was blocking the registration sticker on his license plate.

Then, as they handed him the fine, they told him he should remove the rack when he's not using it.

"For the location that we live, next to the mountains, you know, going three times a week to the mountains to go mountain biking with my friends, and then on the weekends, having to not have a bike rack on my car or take it off when I'm not using it, it seems a little bit troublesome," said Eklund.

Staff Sgt. Dean Vegso says licence plates must be properly displayed, according to Alberta's Traffic Safety Act.

"That way the police can run checks on the vehicle," said Vegso. "So when people either don't clear it or they put obstructions in front of it, it could constitute ticket... Do we see a lot of it? No. Is it high on the radar, is it a priority for the Calgary Police Service? No. Could you get a ticket? Of course."

Eklund says when he started to tell friends what happened he heard similar stories from other cyclists.

Cyclist took photo of police van sporting rack

Trevor Anderson manages a bike shop called Calgary Cycle Road. He says he was driving to West Bragg Creek last summer when he was ticketed. He was carrying his bike on his rack at the time. 

But he fought it — and won — by bringing in a picture of a Calgary police van sporting a rack that covered its plate.

"I don't really know if, like, petitions or something could be done to get something like this changed, but there definitely needs to be something done about it 'cause you are picking on people for a really bad reason. That truly seems like a cash grab," said Anderson.

Vegso says police use their discretion when writing a ticket for this offence, and they don't usually fine drivers who are hauling a bike.

Eklund says he hopes someone can come up with a solution.

"The manufacturers don't provide an extra plate to put the licence plate on the rack when you are using it. So the consumer is let down in the whole thing," said Eklund.


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