Don’t stand for it

RiDE (UK) - - Travel -

QI HAVE A Tri­umph Tiger 1200 Ex­plorer XCA. A cou­ple of weeks ago I was rid­ing in typ­i­cal Bri­tish sum­mer weather of sun and show­ers. I was wear­ing a full tex­tile jacket and I de­cided to stand on the pegs to get a bit of air flow through the suit to cool down. I no­ticed a po­lice car in the line of cars be­hind me but paid it no mind, as I was rid­ing ap­pro­pri­ately.

Turn­ing into a sec­tion of main road and dual car­riage­way, I was seated again and cruis­ing well within the speed limit in lane one. The po­lice car pulled up along­side and sig­nalled me to pull over. The of­fi­cer then asked the usual ques­tions and said he had noted I was stand­ing on the pegs and this was dan­ger­ous, as the bike was not un­der full con­trol. I tried ex­plain­ing that it was un­der con­trol, as he had wit­nessed me steer­ing, al­ter­ing speed and chang­ing gear, all safely and the bike was de­signed for it. Un­for­tu­nately, he was hav­ing none of it and in­sisted it was un­safe to ride stand­ing. I felt dis­cre­tion was the best course so apol­o­gised and promised not to do it again.

How­ever, it got me think­ing; what is the po­si­tion legally about stand­ing on the pegs? I have had a quick flick through my High­way Code and the IAM books but they do not cover the topic di­rectly.

AAS A PRE­LIM­I­NARY point, you did noth­ing wrong but more im­por­tantly, you played the po­lice of­fi­cer ab­so­lutely cor­rectly. I would not have been quick to prom­ise that I would not stand on the pegs again but other than that, de­spite him be­ing wrong, you played it right. You could have chal­lenged him to write you up, ar­gued it in front of the mag­is­trates, taken the risk of hav­ing a bench of mag­is­trates that sim­ply be­lieve what the po­lice of­fi­cer told them — but it would have been a costly way to prove a point, be­cause go­ing to law can be more ex­pen­sive than wrongly in­gested hum­ble pie.

How­ever, the fact re­mains that the po­lice of­fi­cer was wrong. You had full use of all the con­trols on your ma­chine. Your bal­ance was wholly un­af­fected. The po­lice of­fi­cer used the word ‘dan­ger­ous’. In or­der to make dan­ger­ous driv­ing, your rid­ing would have to fall far be­low the stan­dards of a rea­son­ably pru­dent and com­pe­tent driver/rider. The only pos­si­bil­i­ties were po­ten­tially driv­ing with­out due care or su­per­fi­cially, Sec­tion 41(d) of the 1988 Road Traf­fic Act, which is a piece of leg­is­la­tion de­signed to pros­e­cute peo­ple who sit so low that they can­not see the road ahead. While you were un­able to use your mir­rors when stood up on the pegs, the law is clear that you may not in­ter­fere with your for­ward vi­sion, but not your rear vi­sion.

I de­fended a due-care case on ex­actly the same facts many years ago. The rider was on a BMW R1150GS and he stood up on the pegs, for no par­tic­u­lar rea­son. This an­noyed a po­lice of­fi­cer in an un­marked car who lit him up and pulled him over. The mo­tor­cy­clist stood his ground and in­vited the po­lice of­fi­cer to write him up be­cause he sim­ply would not ac­cept the ‘words of ad­vice’ from the po­lice of­fi­cer. The po­lice of­fi­cer, who had no ex­per­tise in mo­tor­cy­cles, had a hor­ri­ble time un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion. I read ev­i­dence from an in­ter­na­tional-stan­dard en­duro rider on the safety of stand­ing up. The mag­is­trates scolded the of­fi­cer for wast­ing ev­ery­one’s time and awarded my client his en­tire de­fence costs.

How­ever, that was back in the days when the mag­is­trates could award the full costs of a de­fence and if you de­fended an ac­tion suc­cess­fully, you would not end up out of pocket. This has now changed. The mag­is­trates are only en­ti­tled to award you what your costs un­der le­gal aid would have been, but it would not be avail­able for a mi­nor road traf­fic of­fence. At best, you would get back two-thirds of your le­gal fees (in the event of an al­most-cer­tain ac­quit­tal). So while the po­lice of­fi­cer was wrong, prov­ing your­self right would have been very ex­pen­sive.

Stand­ing on the pegs on the road is not, in it­self, a rea­son to be pulled over if you are oth­er­wise rid­ing ap­pro­pri­ately

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