Q&A - Motorcycle Seating Requirements

motorcycleJust reading up on the new impoundment rules and was looking for something that shows me how the law is applied as far as "improper seating". Is this applicable to motorcycles only? If so, I must presume that it's intent is to diminish some of the "stunting" I've witnessed.

My concern is this, as a veteran motorcyclist, i know of few instances where one would not sit on the seat while operating a motorcycle. One being riding at walking speed, the other, when riding over an obstacle or bump.

As a young rider, i was taught that we "ride" a bike, not "drive " it, and that, like a horse, the four stability points are the feet and hands, with the seat being " floating" as necessary.

I am hoping that a law has not been passed,where a legitimate riding technique, can be punishable, due to a misunderstanding of the intent by an overzealous individual.

Could you please advise?


Stand or Sit?

I have never been a motorcycle rider, so I had to go for help on this one. First, lets review the law:

Operating motorcycle

55 A person must not drive or operate a motorcycle on a highway unless seated in the driver's seat of the motorcycle.

Impoundment of motor vehicle

251 (1) If a peace officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a person

(e) has driven or operated a motor vehicle on a highway in a race or in a stunt and the peace officer intends to charge the person with a motor vehicle related Criminal Code offence or an offence under section 144 (1), 146 or 148 of this Act, or...

the peace officer or another peace officer must

(g) cause the motor vehicle to be taken to and impounded at a place directed by the peace officer, and

(h) if paragraph (c) of this subsection applies, serve on the person a notice of driving prohibition in the form established by the superintendent.

"stunt" means circumstances in which, taking into account the condition of the highway, traffic, visibility and weather, the driver or operator of a motor vehicle is driving or operating the motor vehicle without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway or in a manner that is likely to cause harm to an individual or likely to distract, startle or interfere with users of the highway by doing any of the following:

(a) causing any or all of the motor vehicle's tires to lift from the road surface;

(b) causing the motor vehicle to lose traction while turning the motor vehicle;

(c) driving the motor vehicle in a manner to cause the motor vehicle to spin;

(d) driving the motor vehicle in a lane intended for oncoming traffic for longer than necessary to pass another vehicle;

(e) slowing or stopping the motor vehicle in a manner that prevents other motor vehicles from passing or in a manner that blocks or impedes other motor vehicles;

(f) without justification, driving as close as possible to another motor vehicle, a pedestrian, or a fixed object.

So, the law does require a motorcycle driver to remain seated on the driver's seat when operating a motorcycle on a highway. However, not remaining seated does not fall under the definition of a stunt, so there is no cause to impound the motorcycle for stunting solely for the reason that the driver was standing up while operating the motorcycle.

Now on to the solicited help. My first response was from Jeremy Friesen of the Vancouver Island Motorcycle School:

That's a tough one. I personally take issue with the law for the same reasons listed as there are times when standing is better for stability.

I did bring this subject up with some of the people from ICBC that I have regular interaction with, and the response I got was that no one should be punished for lifting their butt off the seat, but as far as they are concerned there is no reason for anyone to stand while riding a motorcycle.

I personally see no reason why we shouldn't have it as an option. It does seem like it was written by someone who watched stunting videos on youtube and thought that since most stunts start off with the rider standing that we should just outlaw that and the problem would be solved.

Although I do transfer my weight to the foot pegs for real slow maneuvers, I don't stand for them unless I'm on a dirt bike, but going over rough terrain or a big bump is smoother and therefore much safer if you are above the seat. Even something as simple as adjusting your riding gear to be more comfortable.

There are plenty of innocent reasons to stand, and many reasons to stand for the sake of safety, but Part 1, section 55 of the Motor Vehicle Act states: "A person must not drive or operate a motorcycle on a highway unless seated in the driver's seat of the motorcycle." So while standing is not allowed, and I have heard of people being ticketed for it, although I haven't heard of anyone being charged with stunting for simply standing while riding.

In summary, it's a law and as such failure to comply does have consequences, but we can try to have it changed so that logic and reason can prevail. The best way to do that is letter writing campaigns and of course joining the BCCOM, as I believe that have already taken issue with that section of the MVA

The second was from Ryan Austin of Advanced Rider Training:

There has been a section regards the prohibition for standing while riding even before the new stunting section came in.   In regards to a legitimate reason to stand while riding, yes there would be in my opinion, but it would come down to the application.  If a rider was riding over train track, objects on the roadways such as wood or large cracks or potholes in the roads, loading the pegs of the bike drives the center of gravity down to the lowest point and assists in stabilizing the motorcycle and can make crossing obstacles like that much safer.

My thought is the legislation is there to capture the riders who are stunting by standing up to show off, standing on the seat, etc, not the riders who momentarily raises their rear from the seat to cross an obstacle and sits back down.

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