By Laura Keil
When spring cleaning turned up these vintage bicycle plates she’d bought at a yard sale years ago, Maureen Brownlee decided to auction them for donations to two June research fundraisers: the Walk to End ALS and Tess Colosimo’s Moving to Cure Scleroderma. According to www.bcpl8s.ca, a site devoted to the history of B.C. license plates, it was believed that licensing bikes could address bike thefts and compliance with the law. Municipalities hoped to make it easier to catch reckless cyclists that had either broken a traffic law, been involved in a collision and fled the scene or caused some other harm.
The Village of Valemount’s Bicycle Bylaw was signed into law by Valemount’s first mayor Sandy MacLean and came into effect Jan. 1st 1967. It made it law that all bicycles that were used on a highway within the Village (at that time the old highway, now Main Street) needed to be registered and plated for a cost of $1. Among other provisions, bicycles were prohibited from footpaths and sidewalks, cyclists needed to have at least one hand on the handlebars and bicycles needed a light starting at dusk. Those violating the bylaw were subject to a fine not exceeding $100 (equivalent to $790 in 2021). In lieu of a fine, the bylaw stated violators would face up to 1 month of jail time.By the 1970s, bicycle license plates began falling out of favour due to the cost and the ineffectiveness of the plates to achieve their intended goals, according to bcpl8s.ca. Another concern was the negative associations this created between children and police when police issued children (or rather, their parents) a ticket.
To bid on this rare part of Valemount’s bicycle history, go by July 1st to www.facebook.com/BrownleeMaureen