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  1. #1
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    Anybody get hassled by cops with a hitch rack

    Hello everyone,

    As of now I am getting a hitch installed on my Corolla and getting a hitch bike rack.. Still deciding on one. Anyways I was wondering how many of you have been pulled over for having a hitch bike rack? I am going to be going from Los Angeles - Seattle. Is there anything I need to worry about. I heard of people getting tickets and such. I'm just curious to know. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Not pulled over- but I had a CHP follow me for 15 minutes while I was going well under the speed limit one morning on the way to the trail head.

    I think he was checking out my sweet bike.

  3. #3
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    Anybody get hassled by cops with a hitch rack

    I was stopped by Nevada state police near Reno on the way to XC nationals. Liar said he couldn't read my date on my registration. He was just checking for drugs and likely got me mixed up with the burning man crowd.

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    Never. We've traveled all over the country w/o any hassles. I've been told by a cop friend that technically you're breaking the law if your plate is obscured, so I suppose we shouldn't be surprised if we get a ticket at some point.
    There are three kinds of people: those of us that are good at math and those that are not.

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    Never happened. Traveled throughout the western US. Never take the rack off my car.

  6. #6
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    thats some interesting stories...Thanks everyone for the input. I really appreciate it

  7. #7
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    It's good practice to know the laws of the state you'll be driving through. The more you know, the better off you'll be in case you get hassled. Don't expect local or state law enforcement personnel to know EVERY law. Same goes with doctors. They have reference materials for a reason. You get what I'm saying..
    For example in Texas, having a rack that obscures the rear plate is okay granted it's installed in a "normal or customary manner."

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    The only issues I see are people that drive with them attached all the time, that kind of invites the police to pull you over and gives them one more reason to write you up if you're doing something stupid or they find a reason. That's personal choice, but it's also easy to limit by taking it off when you aren't using it.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davey Simon View Post
    I was stopped by Nevada state police near Reno on the way to XC nationals. Liar said he couldn't read my date on my registration. He was just checking for drugs and likely got me mixed up with the burning man crowd.
    How do you know he was lying? It would be very easy for a bike rack to block your registration or parts of it.

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    Yes and it sucked. Both times...

  11. #11
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    Yes, got a "fixit" ticket in my California hometown -it was actually for having a (temporarily) empty trunk rack. Now I use a tray-style hitch rack. The rack isn't usually on without bikes, but sometimes it is. I expect another ticket, oh well.
    Never give up, never surrender.

  12. #12
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    The nice thing about 1Up racks is that they don't block the plate (though I suppose it depends on how many trays you have and where your plate is located on the car). With bikes on of course is another story.

    Anybody get hassled by cops with a hitch rack-dsc00306.jpg
    我的镀铬光泽的冰柱一样,我骑在镇附近在我的低骑手自行车

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    I'm getting a hitch rack soon and I intend to work out some ways that I can avoid being hassled by cops for this. I think I'll be installing a set of trailer lights on my rack, and trying to get an extra plate I can mount on it. I'd rather not have to remove the plate from my car and put it on the rack instead. Not sure what options the BMV will give me for that just yet.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    I'm getting a hitch rack soon and I intend to work out some ways that I can avoid being hassled by cops for this. I think I'll be installing a set of trailer lights on my rack, and trying to get an extra plate I can mount on it. I'd rather not have to remove the plate from my car and put it on the rack instead. Not sure what options the BMV will give me for that just yet.
    Isaw a camper/trailer with the license (or a spare) attached to the bike rack. Seems like a good idea- I might go that route also.
    Never give up, never surrender.

  15. #15
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    In many parts of Europe, it is law to have tail lights and an additioonal plate attached to the bike rack. It is so commonplace that Thule & other rack makers include racks with the lights & plate attached - pic below:

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by C.P. View Post
    In many parts of Europe, it is law to have tail lights and an additioonal plate attached to the bike rack. It is so commonplace that Thule & other rack makers include racks with the lights & plate attached - pic below:

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    This is the basic idea I intend to replicate. It might as well be a law here in the states, but what seems to matter most is whether you run into a cop who feels like enforcing it. Lack of consistent enforcement seems to keep rack mfr's from including lights and a plate mount.

  17. #17
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    yup. Thule sells (International/European Markets) a rack accessory called the "lightboard"

    Thule Light board 976 - Thule

  18. #18
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    It'd be funny to do a large study on this topic - here and RBR - to see who (demographics, vehicle type, bike type, etc.) gets "hassled".

    Hypothesis: New minivans with road bikes would be on one end of the chart. $1,500 beaters with 4 mountain bikes, on the other end. It's profiling man! Come on, admit it... if you were a cop, you'd think "Look there - four 20-year-old guys with mountain bikes in a 15-year-old Subaru. They've got at least a 1/4 bag on'em"
    Mountain bikers who don't road ride are usually slow.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    The only issues I see are people that drive with them attached all the time, that kind of invites the police to pull you over and gives them one more reason to write you up if you're doing something stupid or they find a reason. That's personal choice, but it's also easy to limit by taking it off when you aren't using it.
    "taking off a hitch rack every time"

    That degrades our quality of life right there. What a pita to move that 50 lb beast every time.

    Also, you can still get a ticket when it's on with bikes.

    I'd say if you live in an area where cops target folks with hitch racks then find a different rack or a s solution to make the license plate visible.

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  20. #20
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    This is just crazy. I do like the idea of having that thule light board. I think @OldZaskar is right tho. Cops profile like crazy. I dont want a roof rack cause its a ***** to lift bikes and I do not want a trunk rack don't feel like its secure enough for my long drive. Hitch seems the most easiest and most secure to me. I really hope I do not get messed with by CHP or any highway patrol

  21. #21
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    State law in Washington is that it is not legal to have a rack that obscures the plate; however, it is permissible when transporting the bike. Go figure.

    I wouldn't say it's common to be cited for a rack; however, pretty much all of my ride buddies have been pulled over at some point and issued a warning. Just happened to me about a month ago in downtown Seattle after probably a decade of driving a car with a hitch rack.

    Like everyone else said here, it's more a pretext for a stop than anything else. If you're not drunk, don't act like a jerk, and aren't...ahem...a particular demographic that might make you suspicious to certain members of our law enforcement community, then you're probably fine.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeePhroh View Post
    State law in Washington is that it is not legal to have a rack that obscures the plate; however, it is permissible when transporting the bike. Go figure.

    I wouldn't say it's common to be cited for a rack; however, pretty much all of my ride buddies have been pulled over at some point and issued a warning. Just happened to me about a month ago in downtown Seattle after probably a decade of driving a car with a hitch rack.

    Like everyone else said here, it's more a pretext for a stop than anything else. If you're not drunk, don't act like a jerk, and aren't...ahem...a particular demographic that might make you suspicious to certain members of our law enforcement community, then you're probably fine.

    well that is good to know since I am going to be living in Tacoma. Thanks @GeePhroh

  23. #23
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    I run a roof rack, no hassles.....really is it that hard/ inconvienant to put your bike on a roof rack? I borrowed a hitch rack once for a trip to Mammoth, hated it, worried about getting rear ended ( covered tail lights/ brake lights) and parking was another issue. Hitch racks are popular Iknow, but to me, they are not worth the "so called" conveince.

  24. #24
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    If the timing is right, the mood is right, and a motorized meter maid is looking to "catch another" he's going to look for any excuse to pull over his next paycheck- He's going to use a series of eliminations- If pickings are thin and your the only one with a bike rack- it's you, or me or whoever. They can always find something.
    On the other hand, I've been behind czars with a rack load of bikes and couldn't see crap of the tail lights. Ever get behind a rack load of street cruiser bikes at night? The ones with reflectors all over hell- hit them with your headlights and you can't tell brake lights from streetlights.- That has stood out to me before as an accident waiting to happen.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff View Post
    I run a roof rack, no hassles.....really is it that hard/ inconvienant to put your bike on a roof rack? I borrowed a hitch rack once for a trip to Mammoth, hated it, worried about getting rear ended ( covered tail lights/ brake lights) and parking was another issue. Hitch racks are popular Iknow, but to me, they are not worth the "so called" conveince.
    -Hmm, lifting it 1.5 feet vs crazy balancing 5+ feet high?
    -Leaving the wheel on vs variety of roof racks that make you take a wheel off?
    -Ability to slowly back up into a wall and "jam" the bike in so it's nearly impossible to steal (for short periods of time obviously).
    -No real hit to mileage.
    -Ability to take the rack completely off when not using.
    -No chance of scratching the top of the car.

    Getting rear ended vs. ripping your bikes off when driving past an overhang is about equal. I don't know how many times a year you get rear-ended, but it's zero for me and I'm 35, plus that's something you have a little more control over. Not complete control obviously, but you can do a bit to keep yourself out of those situations too.

    Honestly, modern hitch racks (not crazy heavy, easy to use and quick, allow access to the trunk/rear hatch, etc) are better in just about every way. The only reason I see to go with a roof is on a few vehicles where there is absolutely no way to get a receiver in there, but on many vehicles where you think you can't one on, you often can because the same vehicle is speced in Europe for one and there's a decent market for the receivers all over the world. On the other hand, if you like the way your car looks with all sorts of external erector-set devices, I guess that's cool.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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