This week, I’ll take a look at some readers’ requested topics.
It is motorcycle season! All motor-vehicle drivers should be very aware of the increasing number of motorcycles on the road this time of year. Look for them.
The most common statement after a motorcycle/motor-vehicle crash is an exclamation by the motor-vehicle driver: “I never saw it coming.” It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who gets the worst of such crashes. Motorcycles can get caught in the blind spot of any driver, and shoulder checks are the best way to see them before making a turn, lane change or entering and leaving a parking space.
Weather permitting, experienced motorcycle riders are all-year travellers south of the Malahat. Fair-weather riders, on the other hand, show up this time of year. They are generally not as skilful or safety-conscious as the seasoned riders. Some are apt to make elementary errors, such as a right-lane position as opposed to left-side. Both positions avoid the oil accumulation down the centre, but the left-side riders are more visible and force cars to use the whole left side to pass, while reserving the right side of the lane for escaping collisions or road debris. Oscillating headlights on bikes are a great way to differentiate between a bike and the one headlight of an oncoming car at night.
Motorcycles stop quickly at low speed and, except for the very technologically designed newer and bigger motorcycles with anti-lock braking, they take more space to stop at high speed.
My sister Margaret has a 1700-cc Harley. Her best advice to riders is simple: Don’t make left turns, except from advance-arrow intersections. Three right turns are the safer option.
Stephen wants all drivers of modern cars to leave the headlight switch in Auto mode. It will eliminate the lack of taillights at night, when drivers forget to switch the headlights on. Good idea.
Paul does not like the standard traffic-light intersection design, when a traffic circle would suffice. He says the stop-and-go planning should have gone out with the dinosaurs (real and political). He likes using circles better than going around the block or through a parking lot to go back the way you came.
Ted wanted a definition of right-of-way in parking lots. It is the same as in other areas: The wanter waits. A driver wanting a space must wait for another to leave it. A driver in a spot must wait for the way to be clear before exiting. A driver exiting must yield to all other traffic. My advice is to use drive-through spaces and forget reverse gear.
Brian had a great suggestion. Instead of drivers waiting in a left-turn lane, with a red-light arrow governing advancement, he wants a purple solid light. This purple setting would allow for a left turn when there is no oncoming traffic. The total onus would be on the left-turner if a crash happened. Good suggestion.
Daryl is troubled by the very similar colour of the insurance decals from this year to last year. Surely the ICBC people could have had a more dramatic colour contrast. I agree.
John thinks there is a plot by local municipal politicians in Victoria to frustrate motor-vehicle traffic by erecting unnecessary traffic stops throughout the city. Others support this theory by referencing the loss of parking spaces due to development of surface lots. Some blame bike lanes for the eradication of parking spaces behind the provincial legislature. It is probably a fluke of timing that this is happening, rather than a grand plan. Then again, the fact that you are paranoid doesn’t mean they are still not out to get you.
Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.