Friday, April 25th2.8°C
Behind The Wheel

Motor Assisted Cycle or Motorcycle?

Whether your mechanical skills are limited to taking the pedals off of your motor assisted cycle or extensive enough to attach a gasoline engine to a bicycle, both could land you in trouble with the rules. Making either of these modifications will turn your transport into a motor vehicle that requires insurance and licence plates. At $598, the ticket for operating without insurance is an expensive one!

In order to qualify as a motor assisted cycle and avoid the need to buy licence and insurance the machine must meet a number of qualifications. These include an electric motor with a power output of 500 watts or less and a top speed of no more than 32 km/h on level ground. The most important feature is that it must have pedals to allow you to pedal it!

There has been some past confusion in the traffic courts about whether modified motor assisted cycles require insurance and licence. You may recall the case of R v. Ryan where Judicial Justice of the Peace Gordon held that a bicycle with a gasoline engine could not be licenced and insured, so it must no require them, finding Mr. Ryan not guilty. Subsequent decisions have followed provincial court rulings and resulted in convictions.

With this in mind, think twice before you take the pedals off or create something that will put your bank account in jeopardy.


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit


ICBC introduces revised Class 5 Re-Exam

Test someone for long enough and they will make enough mistakes to fail. This observation from a driving instructor that I spoke with last weekend made me think because we were discussing the new Class 5 road test protocol for driver re-examinations. ICBC will apply the new standard to drivers who are already fully licensed but are having their current capabilities tested.

The new protocol allows for more time prior to and following the test for questions and concerns. This would assist the driver to settle their nerves and make sure that they are clear on what is going to be required of them. It will also help with understanding the outcome of the test and enable them to take measures to prepare for a subsequent test if they do not pass.

In comparison to tests taken by new drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP), the re-examination will require fewer repetitions of driving skills. The driving instructor suggested that this is appropriate as it more closely matches an older driver's situation. Many self limit and do not drive for long periods of time. A lengthy test would be out of the ordinary and could induce enough minor errors to fail a driver who may not deserve it.

Finally, the test marking form has been simplified to be easier to understand. Current GLP exams devote one page to explain how to decipher the marking. The standards that drivers are expected to meet during the tests have not changed.


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit

People you won't share the road with

You may have seen the road rage video lately where a woman doing the speed limit refuses to move out of the left-hand lane and a man driving a pickup wants by. He eventually passes and then drops back to wave a single digit and yell at the woman. He finally accelerates heavily and gets back into the lane in front of her, losing control and crashing in the median. She stops to laugh at the outcome.

When I saw this behaviour while patrolling I almost always stopped and ticketed the tailgating driver. My thought was that they were trying to do two things wrong, tailgating and intending to exceed the speed limit. The driver doing the speed limit in the left lane was only doing one thing wrong, failing to keep right in the situation. Most often these drivers told me that the other driver who would not move over was the source of the problem.

On the other side of the equation, our traffic court justice told me outright that if I ever ticketed a driver in the left lane at the speed limit for failing to keep right, she would refuse to convict. This is contrary to what the law requires but at that point my hands were tied. You only bang your head against the wall for so long before you stop because it hurts.

In my view both of these drivers were wrong for many reasons, including the three points I've already spoken of. Add to this driving without reasonable consideration for others and driving while distracted (taking the video) and the potential for disaster increases. Given the circumstances shown in the video we have a pair of adult drivers behaving like two-year-olds and very lucky that this outcome was not far more serious.


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit

Turn signals not always polite request

Every now and again I end up scratching my head and wondering why I didn't think of it that way. This is one of those times and it has to do with turn signals. Ask most drivers what they mean and the response will probably be that a turn signal is a request to change direction or move from lane to lane. That isn't necessarily so.

In some circumstances a turn signal may be an indication from the driver that something beyond their control has happened and they will be moving because there is no other option. If you are the dominant driver and insist upon your right of way it may be the worst thing that you could do in the situation. Giving way could prevent a serious situation from becoming worse or avoid creating a new situation that could have a negative impact on you.

I was trained in the Smith System of driving. Two of the key concepts in this system are Aim High in Steering and Get the Big Picture. In other words, see, evaluate and act on distant information as well as avoid mistakes by having a complete awareness of what is going on around you.

The commercial vehicle driver I was discussing this with observed that it is rarely more important to live in the moment than when one is driving. If you have complete situational awareness because you are paying the required attention to the driving task you would realize that giving up your dominant position made good sense. Infringing on your right of way is not always a challenge to be met with an aggressive reaction.


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more please visit

Read more Behind the Wheel articles

About the author...

Tim Schewe has been writing his column for most of the 20 years in his traffic enforcement service in the RCMP. It was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and now Schewe retired from the Force in January of 2006, but the column became a habit and continues.

E-mail him your questions or concerns: [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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