Calgary driver fined $155 for plate-obscuring bike rack also seen on police vehicles
Published Tuesday, April 17, 2018 4:08PM EDT
A Calgary driver is accusing police of trying to make an example of him after he was ticketed for using a bike rack that partially obscured his rear licence plate – despite the fact that police use the same device.
Graeme Sinclair, an avid cyclist, was pulled over by police in January. The officer told him that the bike rack hitched on the back of his SUV was blocking the view of his licence plate.
There was no bike on the rack at the time, Sinclair said. Regardless, he was issued a ticket for $155.
“I literally couldn’t believe what he was saying,” Sinclair told CTV Calgary. “I’d never been stopped, I’d never been warned, I’d never been pulled over and ticketed for this supposed offence, but this traffic police officer decided that he was going to make an example of me.”
Sinclair said the incident is even more surprising because Calgary police use the same type of bike rack to transport police bicycles. Photos of a bike rack on a Calgary police cruiser show that the licence plate is partially obscured.
The difference, according to Sgt. Dale Seddon, is who’s behind the wheel.
“Police are exempt from laws, but still if it was going to be a protracted event where that bike rack is going to be on that vehicle for a while, we share the same obligation as we do with our motoring public,” Seddon said.
Police say snow, dirt or translucent covers over a licence plate can also prompt the fine. However, police say officers exercise a degree of discretion when handing out penalties.
Bike racks can be installed several ways, including roof racks, but different vehicles may be limited to certain capabilities.
Valerie Turbak, manager of bike store Calgary Cycle, said the law leaves little room for cyclists to transport their bikes.
“It seems unreasonable for that law to exist with bicycles anyway, because I don’t see any other way that you would transport your bike safely,” Turbak said.
Since receiving the ticket, Sinclair has changed the way he uses his bike rack. He now makes sure the plate can be seen, and removes the rack when he doesn’t need it.
With files from CTV Calgary’s Kevin Green