British Columbia is a perfect place to ride motorcycles. It doesn’t really matter what kind of riding you want to do, we have the terrain for it; fantastic sweepers and switchbacks on smooth pavement, nice wide highways, lots of gravel roads, and some pretty crazy off road trails for dual sport/dirt biking.
With all of this going for it, you would think that BC would be a mecca for motorcyclists, and it would be if not for the interference of people who obviously don’t know anything about motorcycles.
I’m talking about the government and the self appointed safety lobbyist. People who don’t ride, and have often never had anything except for negative experiences with motorcycles have decided that they are the best people to make rules and regulations for those of us who do love to ride. I won’t deny that they are often well intentioned, but good intentions without proper knowledge of a subject doesn’t often lead to good results.
A couple of quick examples of this issue are the fact that a recent push for motorcycle safety legislation left us an update of the helmet law, but nothing else of much value.
Somehow, someone got it in their head that standing on your foot pegs should be an offense that is punishable with fines and the instant impound of your bike, leaving you on the side of the road and on the hook for towing and impound fees.
Why can’t we stand on our pegs?
No idea. I’ve asked people who were involved in the writing of the new laws, and I’ve asked people at ICBC. The best I’ve got out of them was “why do you need to stand up?” and “what if you have to stop quickly?”
There are more answers to the first question than I want to take time to list here, but the simple ones are “sometimes I want to”, and “safety”. The answer to the second one is “why do you think that standing will have a negative impact on my ability to stop?”
I suspect that the real reasons that we can’t stand on our pegs (even when riding a bike that was designed for that) is because that’s the first thing that people do before doing wheelies in a lot of the stunt videos on youtube. I can’t verify my suspicions about this, but considering the lack of any real answers, I think it was probably a contributing factor.
So to sum it up, the reason we can’t stand up while riding seems to be a resounding “Because we said so.”
That doesn’t seem like a good answer to me, but it is far from the only failing of the powers that be when it comes to motorcycles.
The ICBC booklet that is intended to teach you how to ride your bike safely has several things in it that are downright dangerous and straight up wrong. The worst example is their instructions for what to do when if you get a “speed wobble”. Their idea of what to do is the exact opposite of the right thing.
They say that you should “Grip the handlebars firmly to dampen the wobble…” and “Rise slightly off the seat to move your weight down to the footpegs. Keep your weight as far forward as possible. This will help make the bike more stable.”
Now those of you who are paying attention may be thinking “wait a minute, didn’t we just get told that there’s no reason to stand on our pegs?”, and those of you who know about what causes wobbles and how to deal with them will realize that both of these suggestions are the exact opposite of what you want to do.
Most speed wobbles are CAUSED by gripping the handle bars too tightly. Trying to tighten up the grip even more will only exacerbate the situation. Furthermore, adding weight to a wobbling front tire will not make it stable. I have no idea why they think it will, but it is much more likely to make the situation worse again.
The correct thing to do is relax your grip on the bars and simply look where you want to go. That’s the same thing you should be doing all the time. If you have proper riding posture, it shouldn’t be an issue to begin with.
Now we come to the issues with the new dirt biking legislation.
I’m not a fan of the obvious money grab that the off road vehicle registration is, but that’s the least of the issues with the new OHV (off highway vehicle) rules.
There were a lot of promises made when these rules were being pushed on us. The biggest pipe dream was that mandatory registration would prevent dirt bike theft. The obscene number of social media posts I’ve been seeing lately asking for assistance in tracking down stolen bikes tells another story. Registration has done nothing to stop theft, and it never will. Thieves aren’t likely to try and register the bikes they stole, so there’s no reason to think that they will stop stealing simply because they’re still not allowed to.
Now we have stories about people getting warnings and fines for unloading their bikes from their trucks because parking lots and staging areas are technically “highway” and they don’t have the proper insurance for pushing their bike in a parking lot.
People under 16 are unable to get insurance on their dirt bike, so they simply can’t ride at all if they have to unload at the side of the road, or in a staging area that happens to be “highway”. They can’t connect trails that require crossing a logging road, as even pushing the bike across would be a violation.
This is an absolute failure of logic. Laws are written without any thought to what they will actually mean, and the people who are trying to follow the rules are the ones who suffer for it.
There’s a lot of money available to places that are inviting to motorcyclists, and to motorsports, but we need laws that follow logic and reason for BC to reclaim it’s position as one of those places.
I agree totally . I’ve been riding since I was five years old and under these laws, getting my first bike and a place to ride it on my own would have been impossible. Registration of a dirt bike is ridiculous ,especially if it is a strictly off-road bike.
I too have been riding since I was 3. Originally from New Zealand I rode all my life on the road and off. The rules of definitely changed over there and here it is getting stupid like another rule that they have an enforced here is the gray area AKA riding the line. It’s jumping to the front of the Queue at a traffic light in between the cars I think that is safer better than sitting like an idiot waiting to get rear ended, in New Zealand the police do not do anything about it as its safe for a motorcyclist and others around him. But in BC you will get busted. I think that is one rule that should be changed I have been nearly rear-ended twice. I always run the line and if a cop pulls me over I’m going to tell him to bugger off in a kiwi accent. And tell him why..
As a former Kiwi myself, I would have been fully able to translate….and I would not have insulted you by calling you a bloody Digger…..she’ll be right mate 😉
I would comment IF I COULD READ THE THING!
Why pale grey font, for crying out loud?
How about BLACK, so it can be read???
Sorry Gord. I’m new to this whole blog thing and I’m clearly unaware of the options. I hope it’s better now.
Ok. Good points in general. Is this a VI only matter or BC wide? How to go about representing views to the lawmakers?? Individuals communicating with individual politicians will not be effective. Is there a responsible “motorcycling representation body”? If so what is it and again is it VI only or a BC wide agenda?
All of the things that I mentioned are BC wide issues, it’s provincial laws that are creating the problem.
As far as getting our voices heard, that’s where the problem comes in. There are 2 different groups that are supposed to represent us in these matters; British Columbia Coalition of Motorcyclists, and British Columbia Off-road Motorcycle Association.
I know that BCCOM has in the past done a lot to get things done for motorcyclists in BC, but lately they don’t seem to be doing much of anything. It could due to a lack of members lately, or it could be organizational issues, or it could be that I just don’t see what’s going on. They run off of their membership dues, and without enough of those, they can’t do anything. They also work on the things that their membership say they want. The last big push they were doing was for transferable plates, and lane filtering; both good things. But I’ve never heard anything about the standing on the pegs issue from them, so maybe the majority of their members don’t care about that.
As I understand it, BCORMA is who we have to thank for the dirt bike registration, and the whole mess that came with it. They are a group that claims to represent dirt bikers in BC, but they are an umbrella association for clubs. People can’t join BCORMA, you can only join a local club, and that club can join BCORMA and pick one person to represent them. You can, however buy trail passes from BCORMA, and they are quite adamant that everyone should, but you don’t get to have a say in anything. They appear to be trying to explain who they are and what they do lately, but they’re not doing a very good job. They seem to think of themselves as the dirt bike Justice League, but sometimes I wonder if they aren’t the Legion of Doom.
I absolutely support BCCOM, even though I have lost faith in them lately, I’m still holding out hope and think that if everyone were to join they could do more for us.
BCORMA, on the other hand…. I’m not sure how I feel about them.
For the sake of accuracy, BCORMA, while supporting ORV legislation, is not solely responsible for it as stated earlier. Legislation would have happened anyway, as that ball has been rolling around since the early 1970’s, and started to roll in earnest in about 2002 after complaints by the Grasslands Conservation Council and BC Cattlemen’s Association about irresponsible ORV use on grasslands and grazing range. I have been involved in this process since those early days through Greater Kamloops Motorcycle Association and since 2008ish with BCORMA. We too have some grave concerns around the legislation regarding implementation and enforcement, and are addressing them along with our colleagues in the power sports industry at BC Snowmobile Federation and ATV/BC through the BC Power Sports Coalition(BCPSC). I believe I can safely say that without representation by the various motorized sectors on the government’s Joint Advisory Group re ORV legislation, this would have turned out much worse as the input from non-motorized sectors would pretty much have destroyed our sport(s) and resulted in blanket closures of large areas of the province to off-road motorized recreation. The pressure brought to bear on government by well-funded non-motorized recreation advocates is significant, and increasing, and without motorized advocates taking a strong and occasionally obnoxious or belligerent position on the JAG, this would have looked very different indeed. We were and are under a confidentiality agreement (CA) on the JAG, and 2 motorized reps were removed early in the process over deemed breaches of the CA. On the positive side, BCORMA has also been heavily involved, along with other motorized groups, in coordinating access to National Trails Coalition funding through the federal and provincial governments over the past several years, expanding and legalizing thousands of km’s of trail networks throughout the province. It is particular galling to me and obviously to others to see the level and type of enforcement levied at places like Tamihi/Chipmunk Creek, after government assisted in establishing these very networks. We recognize and continue to work on the issues of staging area insurance requirements, youth ridership on FSRs, road crossings and other pertinent issues regularly. So far, government and ICBC have managed to remove a lot of the family fun from what is supposed to be a family-friendly activity, and we are working to change that.
Well Ken, I do remember seeing in news articles and even on the BCORMA website how proud the group had demanded legislation to legitimize off road riding.
Now that it’s all gone sideways, you guys were just dragged under the bus with the rest of us?
I’ve heard lots of people say the same things you just did when it comes to legislating my other field of work, and after watching that for 2 decades, I knew exactly how things were going to do with this.
It’s really hard to make heads or tails of your organization. I know you guys did a couple town halls to try to get your message out, but I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of off road riders had never heard of you guys until they started reading about you in the news articles about registration.
I want to support the 2 organizations that we have to represent motorcycling in BC, but to be honest, I feel like both groups have failed dismally lately in regards to representation, communication, and effective action.
I know progress is slow with governments, but there is not even the impression of progress from anyone lately.