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.