Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 Rider's For Safety - A Call for Concrete Barriers on TCH/MALAHAT

Malahat Fire Chief Robert Patterson with Riding Community Members during the moment of silence to commemorate ALL persons who have died on the TCH/Malahat.

Saturday, November 5th, 2011, Motorcyclists from across Victoria's Capital Region gathered at Ogden Point for the 2011 Rider's For Safety event.  Approximately 300 riders came together to ride to the Victoria Legislature to hold a remembrance vigil, one week to the day and hour of the latest crash on the TCH/Malahat.  Last Saturday a motorcyclist was killed at 3:45pm near the Shawnigan Lake Turn-off.   If concrete dividers had been in place it may have changed the outcome of the accident for the motorcyclist.  The purpose of the Rider's For Safety event is to raise road safety awareness on the TCH/Malahat and to commemorate ALL lives lost on this road; motorcyclist and vehicle driver.  This continues to be the RFS focus and will be until BC Government Officials choose to install concrete dividers and enhance safety on the highway. 

Vancouver Island is home to Trans Canada Number 1 Malahat Highway.  This is a gorgeous drive/ride, but also deadly when people become inattentive at the wheel engaging in things as mundane as, taking a sip of coffee, texting or using their cell phones, ipods, GPS units and other gadgets that are now routinely found in cars.  These devices are distractions to driver's and it is that fraction of a second that can and does change lives irrevocably, shattering the lives of other drivers and all too often motorcyclists.   Texting and handheld cellphone and device use is illegal in the Province of BC. Other accident factors such as speeding and driving while under the influence have played a factor in crashes in the past on the Malahat. 

Motorcyclists and scooterists are the most vulnerable of all highway users and more often than not when they are involved in a collision with a car the motorcyclist/scooterist is the clear loser in these accidents.  People who were otherwise productive citizens are no longer capable of reaching their potential due to debilitating traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and drastic decline in their pre-accident health status.  Some are lucky and are able to return to their pre-accident status as functioning individuals and others who are less fortunate require extensive rehab or care 24/7/365 for the rest of their lives.  These events alter the lives of everyone concerned; the victim, their families and the driver responsible for the accident.

The Trans Canada Malahat requires concrete barriers to be installed from Goldstream to Mill Bay.  The purpose of the concrete barriers is to keep cars in their lanes and stop them from crossing the centre line. Unfortunately this happens several times a year on the Malahat, often with deadly consequences or lives so shattered that human potential has been damaged beyond repair.  Malahat Fire Dept Chief Robert Patterson is a strong advocate for concrete barriers on the Malahat.  He and his fire fighters are the ones who are called away from their homes as first responders.  They are the ones who scrape people off the pavement, they are the ones who hold the hand of someone who is dying and they are the ones who live with the memory of what they have witnessed.  They are the ones who know that a concrete divider will make a difference in accident outcomes on the Malahat.  Just this one single act of installing concrete dividers will change the scope of accidents on the Malahat.  There still will be crashes, but at least drivers will not be crossing the centre line into on-coming traffic.  The cost of a barrier would be minimal compared to the human cost in tragedy and what the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia would pay out for medical expenses, i.e. rehab, disability and claim settlement.  Honestly why do we continue to let the carnage happen?  How many more people have to die?  We deserve to have safe highways, our fire fighters, paramedics and police officers deserve better, they should not have to witness the carnage knowing that it could have been different, because of the installation of a concrete median.  

I call on everyone in the driving community to do their part, drivers put down the cell phone, stop texting, stop diverting your attention from the road, keep both hands on the wheel.  Engage in road safety habits, don't speed, stop being an aggressive driver.  Motorcyclists/scooterists take motorcycle training courses, you will be a better and safer rider. Promise yourself you will be a better driver every time you get behind the wheel or on your bike and if you can't - don't drive.

The human price paid from motor vehicle accidents is just too high for this to continue and it is up to us to let politicians know we demand a safer Malahat highway.

I urge you to write a letter (not email) to the 
Provincial Minister of Transportation & Highways:  Honourable Blair Lekstrom, 
PO Box 9055 STN 

To find your MLA visit
Vancouver Island Safety Council Motorcycle Safety Instructors 

Rider Kristy Falconer leading Chief Robert Patterson into Ogden Point 

Estimated 300 Riders from the Vancouver Island Motorcycling Community

Motorcyclists parked their bikes along the driveway of the Provincial Legislature -
*At the time this picture was taken all riders had not arrived, they continued to stretch the entire length of the driveway right to where you see the white bus parked curb side.  It was an awe inspiring sight to behold.
The ride was completed without incident and ALL riders followed road laws.

Many riders including myself wore Caution signs on the back
of our riding gear to show who we NEED to come home to
Wayne Williams shot this video of our event it shows how big the event was, note that as he walks with his camera he shows the motorcyclists coming up the driveway, they a wrapped around the side street still waiting to enter.  300!


Troubadour said...

Very important rally and spectacular turnout, I certainly hope your message is received and highway barriers will be installed soon. Inattentive drivers are a main concern with all motorcyclists and the reason I stay away from interstate highways.
Be aware and ride safe.

Dar said...

Troubadour it was amazing yesterday to see how many motorcyclists came out. We had some folks on beautiful maxi scoots as well. It went off without a hitch and everyone rode very well which was great for such a large group.

This my mission now, road safety & driver education for vehicle & motorcycles & scooter. Having ridden a 50cc scoot on just a class 5 car licence I realize how many times I was putting myself at risk due to improper lane placement and really not understanding the basic principles of motorcycling. This needs to change, if it has a motor on it, you need some sort of licence or at the very least a basic course that deals with these things and it should be part of the insurance requirement. Every year I see tourists on the road with ill fitting helmets and improper attire, the worst is they are all over the road performing dangerous acts, if you did these in your road test you would fail. I wonder why this is acceptable and the norm? You can easily be killed or hurt on a 50cc scoot doing 60km/h. This whole thing needs review. As for the Malahat I hope we get the changes we are calling for.

Strega_Rossa said...

Oh Dar, seeing the "caution" sign I breath caught in my throat. How touching to show everyone the family that would be left behind if an unobservant motorist killed a rider.

Dar said...

Peggy - it certainly makes the point doesn't it. Several riders had signs like this on their bikes or coats. It was an amazing event and I hope we keep the momentum up. I am a huge advocate for safety and will continue to make this my mission. It was an amazing event to see the 300 riders, what was so amazing was that it went off so smoothly and there were no traffic incidents. The next few days will tell the tale if we are successful.