Thankfully my lowest mileage season in years ends…
…and leads to a life changing decision.
by Mark DT
Normally it always feels a little sad putting the motorcycle to sleep for the winter. I have my rituals down. There are a couple of nice close by local roads that I make sure to enjoy one last time. That favourite coffee shop two towns over to ride to for one last cup…you get the idea. This year though has been very different.
Everyone always loves to boast about their epic riding year. I’ve had those. The years where you rode further away than ever before, saw more twisties, more scenery, visited a track, and checked off another bucket list item as a rider. This year for me was anything but.
Now it’s been a great summer. We’ve had family visiting us from Denmark for the first time, we got to travel to England together and visited the London Motorcycle Museum. Sadly though I’ve ignored my poor Triumph compared to previous seasons. I’ve barely managed 2000 km this year.
Don’t believe the City Planners, Densification sucks…
Vancouver can now claim to have the worst traffic in North America. Take that California and New York, we’re number one!
The big change came with our decision to move away from the lower mainland. For those of you not from here, the lower mainland is what locals refer to the region surrounding Vancouver, BC, Canada. Our region of 2.6 million people is experimenting with a concept called “densification”. What does this mean? Essentially, they are jamming more and more people into the same existing space. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, except for they are not adding any more bridges or highways to keep up with the growing population. In fact they are even talking about removing bridges with no replacement other than a bike path and a green space. Public transit projects get announced but in reality arrive years after the influx of new people. The predictable result is gridlock. Vancouver can now claim to have the worst traffic in North America. Take that California and New York, we’re number one!
What does this mean as a rider? You are now sharing the dangerous streets with more and more cars than ever before. In a province that bans lane splitting, it now takes longer to get anywhere. My ten minute ride out-of-town now takes twenty. My forty-five minute ride from our small city of White Rock to downtown Vancouver now takes up to an hour and half. Worst of all, I find that I am not enjoying being on my motorcycle as much as I used to. The motorists I share the road with are equally frustrated, and tend to drive far more aggressively and erratically than in the past. If you wonder where the inspiration for this article came from, now you know.
North Americans are often labelled by others around the world as only using their motorcycles as toys, and not transportation. Vancouver and the surrounding area have compounded this by not giving riders a break on parking like other cities. Even worse our provincial government bans lane splitting, forcing us to dwell with the others in traffic in the rain, despite numerous studies that show lane splitting is safer. If parking was reasonable, lane splitting was the law, and insurance rates were similar to our neighbours to the south you would see far more motorcycles on the road like in Europe. However, in a rainy city, with no financial or time incentives, why would you ever leave the dry safe cocoon of a car unless you were riding for pleasure? If 20% of our traffic here were motorcycles, I wonder how much easier the commute downtown would become?
Would you move to live close to a better riding area?
Riding is important to us, and obviously where we live is no longer the ideal environment to be a daily rider. We don’t want to stop riding so we decided why not move? We’ve decided that densification is for the birds. As a result we are moving to a small town on Vancouver Island and fleeing the rat race. Our new home, Ladysmith, BC, has less than 10,000 people, and is most famous for its cinnamon rolls, and of course being the birthplace for a certain Baywatch beauty named Pam. What it offers us is being in the middle of the largest North American island in the Pacific Ocean island with mountains, beaches, national parks, and a lot fewer people and traffic. The beautiful capital city of Victoria is an hour south, the small port city of Nanaimo is twenty minutes north, and the Pacific coastline and all the twisty roads that follow it are on our back door. Just writing this paragraph makes me smile ear to ear.
Whenever we’ve had the maximum enjoyment of our motorcycles it’s always been on a lonely twisty highway with a great view. In two months time, that is what we will have in our own backyard. We are more eager than ever before for the next season of riding to begin. Are we crazy for moving away from the city that is often called one of the most livable in the world? Time will tell. Feel free to comment below or share your own stories by clicking here.