Oscar Castellanos and his wife enjoyed a weekend of biking. However, after returning to the city and removing their bikes from the rack, they were flagged by a police officer in Calgary and fined for an obvious reason – the empty bike rack was covering the vehicle's license plate.
According to CTV News' report, Castellanos was fined 162 CAD ($128) for the said violation. Under section 71(1) of Alberta's Highway Safety Act:
No person shall drive a vehicle if the licence plate is not securely attached in accordance with this regulation, legible and clearly visible at all times.
"I'm sure I'm not the only one that has a bike rack, and now I'm not even sure how to what is the appropriate way to carry my bikes around?" Castellanos told CTV News.
Some bike rack manufacturers, like Thule, already have license plate holders at the back of the bike racks. However, only a few customers ask about them, according to Scott Clark, manager of Ridley’s Cycle in Canada.
Clark admitted to CTV News that some drivers leave the bike racks to obscure the license plates, avoiding photo radar tickets in the process. However, he said that majority of those who have bike racks legitimately use them.
Moving forward, Clark said that his store's staff will proactively offer these license plate holders.
In the US, laws on vehicle license plates vary per state – there are 20 states that don't require front license plates, with Ohio being the most recent addition in 2020.
However, we're pretty sure that the visibility of license plates is just as important as in Canada, so if you have a bike rack, you might want to check your options. Or maybe just remove the rack when not in use.