Sunday, January 24, 2010

Illegal Motorcyce Riding: Quebec in Winter

It appears that the Province of Quebec has banned riding motorcycles on the street from December 15 to March 15 each year, unless they have winter tires, which basically do not exist. Although I now live in Ontario, for some reason this law still gets under my skin.

You might wonder why anyone would care, especially living far from the border. But I used to live in Quebec and I liked to go motorcycling when the weather permitted in the winter (not that often, where I lived up north). Granted, it's generally warmer in southern Ontario, and we have more ice free days. But what about a nice warm spell on March 10th to 14th, when the Quebec Police have announced they will be especially vigilant in handing out $200 fines, while everyone across the border is enjoying the weather?

For me the ability to go out riding on a winter day, when the streets are clear and the weather allows it, helps me deal with the length of our cold, dark winters. I enjoyed going for a ride Thursday, and again on Saturday. I have all the cold weather equipment I need, except winter tires, but then I don't go out when there is ice and snow on the road. OK I'll admit occasionally I may hit a small patch of snow, but it's no worse than a patch of sand, oil, or wet leaves in the summer.

Now I'm worried that the folks in Ontario are going to start thinking it's a good idea.

If I was still living in Quebec, I would try and thwart this law in any way possible. The first one would be to actually go riding as often as I could in the winter, and in front of the police wherever possible. There are several ways to do this. One way is to actually buy snow tires. Not many are available, but you can get a limited range of sizes from France. They are only available in about 4 sizes, but if there is a bike that fits these sizes, (possible a Kawasaki KLR 650) I would buy it and install them. This would be a very big factor in any motorcycle purchase for me. Once I had the snow tires, I would then make every effort to get out when there is actual snow on the road. Which come to think of it is way more dangerous than going out with summer tires on a clear winter day. But riding a motorcycle on snow with winter tires is legal so I would at least be conforming to the law, and instead of just riding for fun, I would be making a political statement too!

Another option is to apply for a special exemption, which is available for people travelling south for a vacation in Florida. It is free, and I think you can apply online. I would carry this around when being stopped by the police.

In a perverse way, this law might actually make the winters the most fun time of year. It would be a lot more exciting going out on a cop-baiting ride in the snow, than my usual donut run to Tim Horton's at Port Dover in the summer.

Picture: Riding in snow, 1952 perfectly legal.  I got the pic from the link below:


  1. Quebec evidently does not like motorcyclists very much.

    As well as banning riding between the bracketed dates, Quebec has jacked up annual registration fees (at least for 'real' bikes) by $400 this year ... presumably for the privilege of not riding.

  2. BTW ... I especially love the footnote on the Quebec registration fees schedule which says, 'Amounts have been rounded off to make them easier to read.

    LOL!! Easier to read, perhaps, but certainly not easier to swallow. A hefty 21% one-year hike for 'regular' bikes, and a whopping 37% for 'high-risk' bikes!? Gasp!

    Quebec evidently does not like motorcyclists very much.

  3. It may seem that Quebec hates motorcycles, it really is only the bureaucrats. The people of Quebec love them. Ontario greatly outnumbers Quebec in every other class of vehicle but motorcycles. I looked it up because on moving to Ontario, I had the feeling that people didn't ride motorcycles as much here, despite the better weather. You see more motorcycles on the road in Quebec than Ontario in the summer. But as of now, apparently less in the Winter. I saw three other bikes on the road on Saturday on my way to Tim's in Cambridge.

    Ontario Quebec Vehicle Registrations 2008 "

  4. I intended the use of 'Quebec' in that context only in the same way that I would use 'Ontario' in a sentence like, 'Ontario was very slow in banning hand held devices.'

    And it ofttimes seems to me that the bureaucrats in transport ministries everywhere have it in for motorcycles.

  5. I am originaly from Quebec but am registered and live in Ontario.
    The "winter Tire Only Law" for cars does apply to me since I live out of province. (I can use All season tires driving thruogh quebec)
    If I ride my bike into Qc this weekend, will I still get a fine???


    Check this link: Law does not apply to vehicles registered outside Quebec.

  7. This is right now my most popular blog entry. I guess things are busy in Quebec. This weekend will be nice weather, but the law says no motorcycles. Apparently the police are stopping every bike they see, but you can get a "derogation" paper online that gives you a seven day exemption. These derogations are acceptable to the police, apparently. And demand is so great that the website crashed.

  8. I googled for this, as we are approaching another winter here in Montreal. My Ducati is registered in Massachusetts, as I am an American living here on a temp visa, so I am exempt from this stupid law!

    I generally like Quebec's way of doing things, but the Nanny-ism does get a little out of hand at times.

    1. Wonder how you did this with your insurance.....usually you are only insured as a resident and for the place where your bike is garaged....

  9. I live in Quebec... 7 day permits can be obtained through the SAAQ website free of charge four times throughout the winter.

  10. Does anyone know how i can register a cutom bike from out of inspector told me they are illegal.

    1. Are you in Ontario? You want to set yourself up for a world of pain? My advice is to forget it. You can spend a lot of time (and money) getting that bike on the road, but it'll be a white elephant when you go to sell it. No one will want your headaches.

      Before you fork over any bucks for it, call your insurance agent. If you can't insure it, you can't plate it. Simple as that.

      If you're planning to import from out of country, you might as well forget it.