A Calgary man has found himself the recipient of a $155 ticket after a Calgary Police Service member determined the bike rack on the back of his SUV obscured the licence plate.

In January, Graeme Sinclair was pulled over and ticketed in connection with the hitch mounted bike rack he has been using for the better part of a decade.

“I literally couldn’t believe what he was saying,” recounted Sinclair of his brush with the law. “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 gonna make an example of me.”

According to police, anything that inhibits the visibility of a licence plate is illegal and that includes bike racks.

“It’s an obligation on motorists to keep their licence plate clearly attached, affixed to the vehicle and in a manner that’s clearly visible,” explained Sgt. Dale Seddon of the Calgary Police Service traffic unit. “I think people sometimes tend to forget that particularly if you are putting something like a bike rack on the back of your vehicle.”

“You have an obligation to make sure your licence plate is visible. It indicates to police that the owner is properly registered, insured and their licence is current.”

Sinclair believes there is a double standard as the Calgary Police Service mountain bike unit is known to use a similar style of rack on their own vehicles. Sgt. Seddon confirms that officers are exempt from some laws but share the same obligations as members of the motoring public.

Staff members at Calgary Cycle say they recommend rear hitch mounted bike carriers as not all vehicles are capable of supporting a roof rack. Manager Valerie Turbak questions how those vehicle owners can legally 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,” said Turbak.

Sinclair accepts the fact that he broke the law and has since starting removing his carrier when he is not transporting his bike. When the rack is affixed to his SUV, he takes extra care to ensure his plate is visible.

CPS officials say offences like obscured plates are enforced at the discretion of the officer. Under the obscured plate law, fines can be issued when licence plates are dirty, snow-covered or under a semi-transparent cover.

With files from CTV’s Kevin Green