Motorcycles are symbols of freedom and, for some, rebellion.
They are also some of the smallest vehicles on the road, offering
little protection in case of an accident or collision. When it
comes to the rights and responsibilities of a motorcyclist in
Canada, most of the additional rules are based on keeping the rider
and any passengers safe on the road.
In order to operate a motorcycle, you must have a valid
motorcycle license (known as an M1, M2, or M class license). This
is separate from a G class driver's license, which as of 2008
no longer covered motorcycles and mopeds. To get a motorcycle
license, you must be at least 16 years of age and go through a
graduated license program, which takes at least 20 months. After
passing a vision test along with written tests covering rules of
the road, road signs, and motorcycle knowledge, you can receive
your M1 license and are eligible for a road test. Once you have
passed the level 1 road test, you will receive your M2 license.
Then, once you have taken and passed your level 2 road test, you
will be fully licensed (an M class license).
Once you have your motorcycle license, there are still
requirements your motorcycle must meet before it can be used on
Your motorcycle must be insured, and
you must carry 3rd party liability insurance of up to $200,000,
direct compensation coverage for property damage, uninsured
automobile coverage of up to $25,000 (which covers you if you are
injured or killed by a driver without insurance or who cannot be
identified), and accident benefits.
Your motorcycle must have a valid
license plate and vehicle permit. To get these, you must also have
a legitimate bill of sale.
Your motorcycle must have a valid
safety certificate, certifying that it is fit to operate on the
Because motorcycles are such symbols of individuality, many
motorcyclists prefer to customize them and the gear they wear while
riding. This is something that must be done carefully, as
customizations can alter the handling of the bike in a manner that
makes it unsafe.
If you are customizing your motorcycle or your riding gear,
there are some additional requirements that must be met:
The helmet must conform to provincial
safety standards, and remain in good order. It can have speakers
and a microphone installed for the purposes of radio communication
or the use of a mobile phone. A helmet must also be worn at all
times, as Ontario is not a province that permits religious
exemptions in regards to helmet laws.
Handlebars must be properly
maintained and not be allowed to become loose or damaged. If you
are modifying the handles, they cannot exceed 380mm above the
uppermost part of the seat while a rider is seated on the
motorcycle (also known as the 15″ rule).
A customized muffler must work as
required and not create emissions above levels permitted under
provincial law, and must not be unreasonably loud (a requirement
shared by other parts of the motorcycle that make noise, such as
the horn). Whether a muffler or a horn is considered too loud
depends on the judgement of the local police – there is no
specific decibel limit set by law.
Just as they are bound by the same rules of the road as all
other road vehicles, motorcycles and cyclists have the same rights
on the road as any car or truck – they have the same right of
way as any automobile, and they have the right to use an entire
lane, just like any other vehicle on the road.
Likewise, in case of a parking or speeding ticket, motorcyclists
have the same right to dispute an alleged infraction as any other
driver. This includes appearing before a judge or justice of the
peace in Provincial Offences Court to plead your case, as well as
explaining extenuating circumstances, and receiving due
In two unanimous decisions released October 19, 2007, the Supreme Court has reversed the majority position of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Herbison and Vytlingam and concluded that the use of the words directly or indirectly; in section 239 (1) of the Insurance Act and the Family Protection Endorsement OPCF 44R does not eliminate the requirement of an unbroken chain of causation.
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