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Behind-the-Wheel

When driving, always check to see if a motorcycle is in your blindspot

Watch out for motorcycles

“I’m a reader of your articles and I wonder if you could remind everyone that there are more motorcycles on the road. We all need to check around extra carefully because bikers are more vulnerable and easy to miss.

I'm writing this to you now because riding my motorcycle (recently) on my way to work, a driver swung across three lanes of traffic —from the right to the left—without doing a proper check and I had to lock my brakes to avoid getting hit by her vehicle.”

That incident could be an example of a looked-but-didn’t-see situation. This driver was not looking specifically for a motorcycle that was there to be seen but not conspicuous among the larger vehicles surrounding it.

Instead of just glancing over your shoulder before you turn or change lanes, search your blind spots to insure that nothing is there.

Motorcycles have a shorter stopping distance than cars and trucks do. Leave more following distance if you find yourself behind a motorcycle to prevent rear ending the rider if something unexpected happens.

Gearing down means a motorcycle will slow without the brake light coming on.

Motorcyclists are considered to be vulnerable road users under new legislation and a minimum following distance of three metres will be set. Remember that when stopping behind one at traffic controls.

There is no such thing as a “fender bender” for motorcycles. Always watch carefully for them when making a left turn. Any mistakes there can be fatal for the rider.

We rely on the visual change in size of an object to judge its distance and speed. Because motorcycles are smaller, we may mistake them as being slower and further away than they really are.

If you are passing a motorcycle, do it as you would for any other vehicle. Move completely out of the lane, complete the pass and then move back.

While we are on the subject, look before you open your door when exiting the left side of a parked vehicle.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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Pet peeves when it comes to drivers' behaviour

Irritants on the road

Everyone has a pet peeve related to driving, right?

I know what mine are, but I was curious about what others might say if I asked, so I did. My faithful weekly newsletter readers responded without hesitation and I want to share their thoughts with you.

The top complaint involved space margins between vehicles. Dislike of drivers who follow too closely was equalled by drivers who move in too soon after passing. Drivers who try to bulldoze others out of the way received special mention, along with those who force other drivers to make a gap for them to facilitate a lane change.

Anticipation, planning and preparing ahead of time will prevent you from finding yourself in the wrong lane at the wrong time.

A close second goes to drivers who do not signal or who do not give adequate signal time. A defensive driver always signals, even when they think no other traffic is around.

A variation on this would have pedestrians point their way to safety. Signalling drivers you wish to cross by pointing along the crosswalk may increase the possibility they will yield.

Third place is speed related, and if you grouped all the related behaviours together, this peeve should probably top the list. Between simply traveling over the speed limit and being slower traffic that fails to keep right received enough votes to come first.

Special mention was made of drivers who accelerate to the speed limit at the start of a passing lane and then slow back down again after it ends, along with inappropriate speed limits—either too high or too low.

It's now a toss up between noisy exhausts and failing to come to a full stop in the proper place. Not stopping properly is one of the behaviours I discuss in “Don't Let This Become Your Default Setting.” Bad habits can be both dangerous and hard to break.

Cyclists who don't follow any traffic rules received a vote. It will be interesting to see how the Motor Vehicle Act will be amended to reflect modern cycling considerations. That currently has enthusiastic support from municipalities, and health authorities are also lending support.

We must not forget daytime running lights. The common problems here are not being operational or not having lights on the rear of the vehicle when they are needed.

In a way, I've saved what might be the best observation for last.

One commercial driver expressed the thought many drivers fail to take the time to analyze before acting. If you are aware of what is going on around you as you drive, you may never find yourself in an unsafe situation.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



What to know about trying to back out of an intersection

Forward not back

Twice in the past week, I've watched drivers who were stopped legally in the intersection signalling a left turn back out of the intersection when the traffic light they were facing turned red.

Why would a driver do that? The action is completely out of context, and unsafe.

In that situation, surrounding traffic is not expecting a driver to suddenly reverse. They will either pull directly up to the stop line, or may even attempt to follow the left-turning vehicle through on the red.

At best there is no room to back into, interfering with cross traffic and, at worst, a collision will result.

In British Columbia, it is not legal to move backwards over a crosswalk. This rule prohibits backing out of an intersection in urban locations.

Remember, a crosswalk does not have to be marked with paint on the roadway to exist.

Those drivers had the right of way—once the signal they were facing turned red—to complete their left turn safely. Cross traffic cannot legally enter on a green light until the left turning vehicle exits the intersection.

If anyone on the cross street honk their vehicle’s horn at you, remember, they're in the wrong.

Left-turning vehicles also have the benefit of the red light overlap, a signal phase where all directions are shown a red light. It's brief but it will give you a moment where all traffic should be stopped and you can complete your turn.

Remember, once you have entered an intersection, the proper way out is by going forward. Backing out of the situation is not the correct choice.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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Rules of the road for electric scooters

Scooter pilot extended

B.C.’s electric kick scooter pilot project has been given a four-year extension.

Effective April 5, new rules will come into effect, as the lessons learned in the first pilot project, which began in 2021, are applied.

Electric kick scooters used on our highway must meet all of the following criteria in order to be used legally:

• Handlebars for steering and front and rear wheels (no more than 430 mm in diameter) with a platform in the middle for standing on.

• One or more electric motors powered by batteries with a continuous power output rating not exceeding 500 watts.

• Weight not exceeding 45 kg, including motors and batteries.

• Maximum speed capability of 24 km/h on a clean, paved and level surface.

• A braking system that can stop the device travelling at maximum speed within nine meters. The motor must also stop when the accelerator is released or brakes applied.

• A bell or horn that must be sounded when passing pedestrians and other road users.

• Front and rear lights that must be turned on between sunset and sunrise (Note: Lights may also be worn by the operator).

The scooter operator must be a least 16 years old and operators must wear a helmet that is approved for cycling use. These helmets are marked showing they meet one of the following safety standards—CSA, ANSI, ASTM or SNELL B-95.

A driver's licence, vehicle licence and insurance are not required.

A person operating an electric kick scooter on a pilot project highway has the same rights and duties under Part 3 of the Motor Vehicle Act that apply to the driver of a vehicle.

Other rules include:

• If the road has a speed limit of 50 km/h or less, you must stay on the right side of the road as much as possible or use a designated cycling lane if one is available

• If the road has a speed limit above 50 km/h, you can only use an electric kick scooter if there is a designated cycling lane available

• Use on sidewalks is prohibited unless a sign allows cycles on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk.

• If used on the sidewalk, scooter must not travel at a faster speed than pedestrians except to pass (which requires sounding a bell or horn).

• You must not carry any passengers, tow people or devices.

• You must ride single file. You must not ride beside another person operating a cycle or an electric kick scooter.

• You must indicate whenever you are turning by using hand signals or lighted turn signals if your device has them.

• It is illegal to operate an electric kick scooter while impaired by alcohol or drugs, or when using a cellphone or other electronic device.

Other rules also apply and are set out in the pilot project regulation.

Violation tickets issued under the regulation carry a $109 fine. You may also have your scooter impounded or face other penalties of up to $2,000 if you don't follow these safety rules.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



More Behind the Wheel articles



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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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