How Far Can a Bike Rack Stick Out

As a cyclist, you may wonder how far a can bike rack stick out? Owning a bike rack is all fun until you are driving in certain states. You can be fined or even jailed for breaking certain laws concerning bike racks.

For instance, if your bike rack is sticking out, it may pose danger and risk to other road users. You are advised to put warning signs to alert other drivers. Also, if your rack is blocking your vehicle plates, you may be blocking certain laws in some states.

You need to be careful and ensure you abide by the laws. Continue reading to learn more.

How Far Can a Bike Rack Stick Out?

Your bike will stick out about six inches on each side on an average vehicle.

The average car is about 72 inches wide, while the lane is 12 feet in most areas. So there are fewer chances of other vehicles knocking on your bike.

If your bike is sticking out, ensure you remove the wheels to minimize the length. You can place the wheels on the back seat in your car.

Though this might be a lot of work, it will help you have peace of mind while on the road.

Some hitch-mounted racks let you carry just the bike frame.

Also see: Do Bike Racks Need Lights?

But, if this doesn’t work, you can still drive with the rack sticking out; just don’t get too close to other vehicles. You could also attach a giant red flag/ tape that warns motorists on the road about the presence of the bike.

When shopping for bike racks, you need to choose the one that fits the model of your vehicle. While some racks can fit effortlessly in an SUV, they won’t fit well in a sedan.

Some racks, for instance, trunk and hitch, can easily block the license plate and rear lights, which is unlawful in some states. So check on this when shopping for rack.

If buying a roof rack, consider the areas you will be driving on. Height restrictions will apply if you are carrying your bike on a rack.

Also, if you are on the road, you should regularly stop to check on the racks to ensure they are secure. You should also avoid driving with an empty bike rack in some states.

Each state has its laws concerning bike racks on vehicles. When driving in these states, keep the following in mind.

When using a trunk or hitch bike rack, ensure you use an auxiliary plate since these racks tend to block the license plates.

According to VA code 46.2-716, it is illegal to drive with an obscured plate number.

In Utah, bike racks can obscure the license plates along as all the instructions were followed during the mounting process. This law also applies in Michigan.

Both the rack and the bike should be properly fitted and secured every time you are driving.

Keep in mind that each state is different in terms of how they enforce laws concerning bike racks. Also, the police will differ on how they charge lawbreakers. So to be on the safe side, ensure you install the racks properly and use an auxiliary number plater in case of any blockage.

When the taillights are obstructed, use the boundary-defining lamps and ensure they are visible from each side.  This is a law in some states.

Keep in mind that you can be ticketed for failing to have these warning signs.

If your bike rack is causing trouble with the law, it’s time you purchase a rack that won’t block the license plate.

Remember that any type of rack that is deemed unsafe is illegal in most states.  Your bike might fall off and cause accidents on the road.

You will be charged and fined with unsecured loads, which carries some penalties of between $10 to $5,000 in most states.

If you are using a trunk rack that doesn’t fit properly, consider a hitch rack. You need to try out different racks before settling for the one that suits you. Hitch racks are pretty easy to install, and hang your bike on them.

Remember, you may need other accessories in addition to your rack. Things such as padding or scratch protectors will help you when transporting your rack.

Final Word

You need to obey all the bike laws when transporting your bike racks using your vehicle. Remember, though some vehicles can easily accommodate most racks and bikes; some won’t. This is why you may find yourself breaking most laws.

You can wonder, how far can bike racks stick out? Most racks stick out not more than six inches. The more it sticks out, the higher risk it poses to other motorists.

Also, things like obscuring your number plate or the racks sticking out can seem minor, but it is illegal in some states. Ensure you check with your respective states to be on the safe side.