Q&A - Child Restraint in Motorcycle Sidecars

Q&A ImageQ: I have a hypothetical law question for you. Not saying in ANY way that this would be a good idea, only a law question.

Could a child of 5 years old (3’7", 50 lbs) ride in the sidecar of a motorcycle in a booster seat? This situation would be in the City of Surrey for reference.

I see that the child has to be able to reach the foot pegs or floorboards to ride “the motorcycle” but I don’t know if that refers to just the motorcycle or the motorcycle and sidecar as a whole.

Do you know where I could reference other sources? Are there any other sources in BC where I can ask questions about the motor vehicle act?

A: The Motor Vehicle Act does set some specifications for passengers on motorycles in section 194:


194 (2) A person, other than the operator, must not ride on a motorcycle on a highway unless

(a) the motorcycle is designed and equipped to carry more than one person,

(b) the other person rides

(i) astride the permanent and regular seat if designed for 2 persons, behind the operator,

(ii) astride another seat firmly attached to the motorcycle behind the seat occupied by the operator, or

(iii) on or in another seat firmly attached to one side of the motorcycle, and

(c) in the case of paragraph (b) (i) or (ii), the other person has both of his or her feet positioned on the foot pegs or floorboards of the motorcycle.

In your situation, the sidecar means that the motorcylce is designed and equipped to carry ore than one person,  and the child is riding in the sidecar so the foot position is not regulated for this case.

Now we need to look at the child restraint provisions under Division 36 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations. In a car, this child would fall under the requirement for a forward facing car seat under 36.05. However, they are exempt when riding in the sidecar unless the sidecar has a seatbelt:


36.09 This Division does not apply to the driver or operator

(e) of a motor vehicle that was not required to have a seat belt assembly under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada) at the time the vehicle was manufactured or imported into Canada unless the vehicle was modified so that there is a seat belt assembly for an available seating position for a child,

So, if the manufacturer or other person has not installed a seatbelt in the sidecar, a child riding there would not need to be in a car seat, but they would have to wear a properly fitted, approved helmet.

As for other resources, the ICBC Learn to Ride Smart guide does touch on passenger safety, but does not speak about this situation.

The traffic enforcement section of your nearest police service is a good place to ask about traffic rules. Be cautious about accepting advice from civilian front counter staff or other police personnel who don't have traffic law enforcement experience. They may know the answers to simple questions but I have seen and heard about improper advice being given to more complex or less commonly asked questions.

You can also try Service BC (formerly Enquiry BC) or Lawyer Referral.


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