Bike Rack number plates - NSW

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Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby find_bruce » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:23 pm

There have been reports of a few people in NSW fined recently despite having a bike rack number plate because they had a did not have a number plate light on their bike rack.

Road transport in NSW is subject to one of the most confusing, complex, intertwined and obscure collection of legislation you could have the misfortune to imagine. I am sure you are far too intelligent to think that some person setting out gratuitous information on the internet would be giving you legal advice. Instead I will simply set out the regulations that appear to me to be relevant and allow you to draw your own conclusions.

In this case you need to refer to 3 different regulations
The Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007 which sets out the requirements for number plates.
The Road Transport (General) Regulation 2005 which provides for penalty notices offences.
The Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2008 which provides for demerit points.

The requirements for a bike rack number plate
Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007 wrote:21 Auxiliary number-plates for bicycle ...
(1) The Authority may on payment of any applicable fee issue a number-plate (referred to in this Division as an auxiliary number-plate) for use on a registrable vehicle (in addition to the vehicle number-plates) by being placed on apparatus attached to the vehicle for use in transporting a bicycle ...
(5) For the purposes of this Regulation: ...
(b) an auxiliary number-plate displayed, in accordance with this Regulation, on apparatus attached to a motor vehicle for use in transporting a bicycle ... is taken to be placed on the motor vehicle concerned
(6) An auxiliary number-plate displayed on a motor vehicle must be illuminated, at all times when the vehicle is driven between the hours of sunset and sunrise, with a white light so as to render visible at a distance of 20 metres the distinguishing number on the plate.

52 Registrable vehicles to comply with vehicle standards specified in Schedule 2
(1) A person must not use a registrable vehicle on a road or road related area unless: (a) the vehicle complies with the applicable vehicle standards for the vehicle, ... Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units (currently $2,200)

The standards are specified in schedule 2.
Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007, Schedule 2 wrote:61 Number-plates
(1) In this clause: ... (b) vehicle number-plate means a number-plate other than an auxiliary number-plate. ...
(2) The vehicle number-plate issued by the Authority for a vehicle must be permanently affixed to the vehicle so that (assuming the vehicle to be on level ground): ... (b) the number-plate is not obscured, defaced or otherwise not legible...
99 Number-plate lights
(1) At least 1 number-plate light must be fitted to the rear of a vehicle.
(2) When on, the number-plate light or lights must illuminate a number-plate on the rear of the vehicle (other than an auxiliary number-plate) with white light, so the characters on the number-plate can be read at night 20 metres from the rear of the vehicle.

It is most likely that in fitting a bike rack, especially with one or more bikes attached, your number plate will be obscured. It appears clear to me that the intention of the regulation is that this is not an offence if you have a bike rack plate fitted in accordance with the regulations. There is however a bit of a gap in the regulations in that nowhere is that expressly stated.

The penalties for obscuring a number plate
If your bike rack does not have a bike rack plate, issued by whatever the RTA is called today, or is fitted but has no number plate light and you are driving after sunset and before sunrise, you may be fined and receive demerit points off your licence. Sunset and Sunrise are not defined, but you would have a good argument for referring to the computations from Geoscience Australia.

The maximum court issued fine for a breach of clause 52(1)(a) is $2,200. If you are issued with a penalty notice for a breach of clause 52(1)(a) this carries a level 6 fine, currently $353 – see Road Transport (General) Regulation 2005, regulation 170.
Road Transport (General) Regulation 2005, schedule 3 wrote:Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007
Clause 52 (1) except in relation to a matter provided for elsewhere in this Table - level 2
Clause 52 (1) (a) in respect of the use of a registrable vehicle that does not comply with any of the following provisions of Schedule 2: ...
(i) clause 61, number-plates not affixed and displayed correctly (including obscured, defaced, illegible or illegal number-plates) in the case of a class A motor vehicle - level 6

If you are issued with a penalty notice for a breach of clause 52(1)(a) this will include 3 demerit points:
Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2008, schedule 2 wrote:Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007
Clause 52 (1) (a) - Use vehicle with obscured/defaced/illegible number-plate or number-plate not displayed or affixed in accordance with Regulation - 3 demerit points


What might I be able to do to avoid a fine or demerit points ?
As I am in the fortunate position of considering this before I have been charged, the simple option is to

(1) As I don’t yet have a bike rack plate, I went to the Myplates website, paid the $37 and am now waiting for the plate to be ready to be picked up.
(2) When it arrives I will fit the plate to my bike rack
(3) I will fit a number plate light to my bike rack, in case I drive my car after sunset and before sunrise. As my car has a towbar, it is as simple as fitting a suitable plug to use the trailer connection. If I didn't have a towbar, I would need to use my imagination to set up a suitable plug.

If I had already received a penalty notice, unless I had a bike rack plate or the number plate was not obscured, I would accept that I was "bang to rights" and simply pay the fine and accept the penalty.

If I had a bike rack plate fitted and the issue was the lack of a number plate light, I would consider seeking a review from the State Debt Recovery Office. In the request, I would make the following points:

(1) if there is an issue about sunrise or sunset, the time and location of the alleged infringement and the time of sunrise and sunset at that location;

(2) That even if I was in breach of regulation 21(6) of the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007 (ie after sunset, before sunrise & no number plate light) that is not the offence with which I was charged. Both clauses 61 and 99 of Schedule 2 of the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007 specifically exclude an auxiliary number plate.

(3) The penalty is out of proportion to the scheme in Schedule 3 to the Road Transport (General) Regulation 2005 in that not having a working number plate licence light is not specifically provided for in the table to and accordingly the fine is a level 2 penalty, being $88 and attracts no demerit points under the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2008.

(4) a 10 year clean record driving record, including no previous cautions or convictions – it should be obvious that I would only include this if it is true.

I probably wouldn’t take it to court unless it was going to be the difference between losing my licence or not because

(1) Whilst I would never discourage anyone from their right to spend money on lawyers, a lawyer is going to cost me more than the fine; and

(2) I would want to be very confident about winning because the Court can fine me significantly more than the $353, plus Court costs.
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by BNA » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:49 pm

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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby grantw » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:49 pm

There can also be a problem with loaded bike racks obscuring brake lights - though I think the sighting distance is 200m. I know a few people who have rigged up a brake light so that they are attached to the bike rack and connect through the trailer couple.
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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby Ozkaban » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:51 pm

I've got the bike rack number plate, but it's not illuminated. Actually, it's cable tied to an Occy strap that holds it tight between the front and rear wheels of the bike. Works fine for me.

I could understand about the fine if the car was driven without a number plate light after sunset, but during the day seems a bit harsh. I might have to jury-rig something up though to avoid any hassles. Maybe just a bike light running off batteries would be enough. Certainly cheaper than getting some official fix done.

Thansk for posting it.

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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby g_rock_rider » Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:19 pm

grantw wrote:There can also be a problem with loaded bike racks obscuring brake lights - though I think the sighting distance is 200m. I know a few people who have rigged up a brake light so that they are attached to the bike rack and connect through the trailer couple.

yep thats the best way, i made one for around $20, peice of alloy and some trailer lights so i have stop/ night lights, blinkers and number plate light all running from the trailer pin plug, i will throw up some pictures tomorrow
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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby GraemeL » Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:23 pm

When I bought my ISI Town & Country rack I was worried about being booked for blocking the rego plate.

To solve this I made one up myself, copying the original, once done I printed it out on some thick 230gsm cardboard and then laminated it. Then using some thin sheet metal I cut out a backing plate, glued the printed version onto it and fixed it to the rack.

I have had this on for months and have police pull up behind me with the bikes on the rack and without, I have not had any problems.

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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby zr953 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:44 pm

find_bruce wrote:(2) That even if I was in breach of regulation 21(6) of the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007 (ie after sunset, before sunrise & no number plate light) that is not the offence with which I was charged. Both clauses 61 and 99 of Schedule 2 of the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007 specifically exclude an auxiliary number plate.



Thanks, this was exactly what I had written to SRO for review.
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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby bychosis » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:50 pm

Not sure where in the regs but i think it is probably illegal to make your own plate, at least in some states. You could put up a dummy one and use the excuse that you haven't got your new plate from RTA because...you can think of a reason.
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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby zr953 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:59 pm

bychosis wrote:Not sure where in the regs but i think it is probably illegal to make your own plate, at least in some states. You could put up a dummy one and use the excuse that you haven't got your new plate from RTA because...you can think of a reason.


I agree, read in one of the clauses that a dummy plate does attract a fine (it is a serious offence apparently). Then I guess laws in WA will be quite different to NSW where regulations are full of contradictions and ambiguities.
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Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby find_bruce » Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:35 pm

Yep - make your own plate is frowned on - Reg 85, Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007, max court imposed fine $2,200 penalty notice $353.

It's similar in WA- Road Traffic (Licensing) Regulations 1975 - Regs 27B & 27C

Of course as the experience of GraemeL shows there is a big difference between what is illegal & what you will probably get away with
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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby maestro » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:47 pm

find_bruce wrote:(6) An auxiliary number-plate displayed on a motor vehicle must be illuminated, at all times when the vehicle is driven between the hours of sunset and sunrise, with a white light


Thank you for that. I was completely unaware.

I'll have to buy a trailer plug and wire one up ASAP.
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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby bychosis » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:23 pm

Have seen a suggestion that a cheap LED white light will do the trick, can zip tie (or other) one on. Should provide enough light if its angled right.
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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby queequeg » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:48 pm

In NSW, the requirements for carrying bicycles on cars can be found here: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/registration/downloads/vsi/vsi_dl1.html

The actual Document you need to download is: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/registration/downloads/vsi/vsi_10_carrying_bicycles_on_motor_vehicles_nov_2009.pdf

I have one of these racks, a Thule EuroWay 947 (3-Bike Towball Mounted):

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It comes with an integrated lightboard that has indicators, parking lights, brake lights and number plate illumination. I just ordered the Bike Rack Plate from the RTA for $37. The plate came with the above Document.

In terms of cost, the Euroway was almost the same as a standard "Hang-On" type rack once you added in the fact that the "Hang-On" racks do not have a BIke Plate Mount or a lightboard, and these two items add around $150 to the price.
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Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby RonK » Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:06 pm

maestro wrote:I'll have to buy a trailer plug and wire one up ASAP.

Dunno about your car, but on mine plugging the harness into the trailer plug also turns off the reversing sensors so the warning beeper doesn't go ballistic when reversing with the rack mounted
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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby queequeg » Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:44 pm

RonK wrote:
maestro wrote:I'll have to buy a trailer plug and wire one up ASAP.

Dunno about your car, but on mine plugging the harness into the trailer plug also turns off the reversing sensors so the warning beeper doesn't go ballistic when reversing with the rack mounted


Same, plugging into the harness automatically disables the reversing sensors.
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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby grw » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:23 am

I have a thule light board for use on a rack. However it does not have any lights on it for the number plate. Given the Vicroads website http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/Registration/NumberPlates/StandardNumberPlates/BicycleRackNumberPlates.htm states:

You can be fined if:
the bike rack number plate is not illuminated at night and clearly visible from 20 metres away. Illumination kits are available from most bicycle retail outlets.


Does anyone know of such a kit? I've never seen one. A google search didn't turn up anything other than full replacement light boards.
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Re: Bike Rack number plates - NSW

Postby lump_a_charcoal » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:36 am

I would think a cheap cycling light from Anaconda/eBay would suffice.
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