Last Friday morning, the cops pulled over a rider in Brampton who’d been reported as speeding. They charged him with having no licence, no insurance, and no visible plate, then filmed him pushing his bike home. Then they posted the video on Twitter.
“Nobody says ‘It’s a great day for a bike push,” tweeted Const. Ian Michel, posting as OPP Central Region. “No license and no insurance resulted in over $5,300 in fines … but got some extra cardio. #ridesafe”
Don’t worry – I have absolutely no sympathy for the rider. He brings a bad name on all motorcyclists. With his sportbike and hidden plate, he was probably one of those guys who’ve been swarming motorists and generally being assholes.
When I started riding, I did it all properly, just as I should. I bought a small motorcycle from a friend when I was still 15 and got my licence on my 16th birthday. I got basic insurance for a couple of hundred bucks, and a month later, I took a motorcycle safety course. If this guy in Brampton wants to ride a motorcycle, he should have done the same thing.
Except maybe this guy decided last year that he’d like to finally ride a motorcycle just like his friends. He bought a bike from a dealer, or a friend, who convinced him that 100 hp was no big deal if he just took it easy. He already knew the rules of the road from driving a car, so it was just a matter of getting some practice.
He couldn’t take a training course because Covid closed them down for most of the season, and he couldn’t graduate from his written M1 licence because Covid also closed down the provincial testing. Worst of all, after he’d bought the bike he started shopping around for insurance with an M1 licence and found it would cost him at least $10,000. So he didn’t get insured, figuring he’d do it once he’d obtained his M2 licence.
But in the meantime, the bike was just sitting there, and last Friday was a glorious day in southern Ontario for a motorcycle ride, and he had all the gear, so off he went. And then he rode like an asshole because he doesn’t know any better, and the cops got him, and the rest is Twitter history.
I made a half-hearted attempt to find the guy through some local forums, but I didn’t try too hard. I knew he shouldn’t tell me his sob story if he’s planning to fight his tickets – mostly, I wanted to know if he just hopped on the bike as soon as the cruiser left. I also didn’t bother calling the OPP for more details because that’s not the point. Like I said, he probably is one of those assholes that responsible riders detest because they ruin motorcycling for the rest of us.
In a way, though, he’s very likely a product of our own failing. Insurance is cripplingly expensive in this province, so much so that many riders just can’t afford it and they fall into the easy temptation of riding without it. Here in Ontario, new riders are expected to gain some experience with their basic M1 licence so they’re good enough to pass the test for their M2 licence. This is why they must hold the M1 licence for a minimum of 60 days before they’re eligible to take the test, but for no more than 90 days. Most Ontario insurance companies won’t insure M1 motorcyclists, however, and for the few that do, it’s not uncommon to pay more than $4,000 for a basic, low-powered machine.
So most new riders just take the written test for their M1 licence, then wait for two months until they can pass their parking-lot test on a school bike after a weekend of crammed training. With the M2 licence, insurance becomes a lot less expensive, though it will depend on the machine and the rider’s age and driving experience.
Maybe this Brampton guy’s M1 licence had expired. Maybe he thought he’d try motorcycling for a while before he made an investment in it. Maybe he had no intention of ever getting a motorcycle licence – there are plenty of unlicensed riders on the road, most of whom think that if they’re going to ride without unaffordable insurance, there’s no point in bothering with a licence, and so no point in getting trained and learning how to be safe.
If this guy is one of those riders, it was just stupid of him to draw attention to himself by allegedly speeding and having an obscured licence plate. I have no sympathy for him. But I remember that I was just 15 when I bought myself that first, small motorcycle, and I remember that the temptation was far too great for me to leave it in the garage and wait for the legality of my 16th birthday. I rode that little bike all over the place, always on quiet back roads so it wasn’t as serious when I crashed every day for the first week, learning on the go.
I got away with it back then and played by the rules as soon as I was old enough to do so. If we had affordable insurance in Ontario, and if our motorcycle safety courses out on windswept parking lots weren’t locked down by Covid precautions, I’m sure plenty of unlicensed riders in this province would be happy to play by the rules too. Maybe not this Brampton guy, but you never know.