Ask DriveSmartBC

Question MarkI am blessed with a steady stream of questions that arrive from visitors to this web site. Whenever I am short on ideas to base my weekly article on I can count on someone to make a suggestion. This week the operative word is short, and I'm going to deal with questions that haven't developed into a full article but deserve a response.

My question is about HOV lanes: Since there is a solid line to separate HOV traffic from regular traffic how do we safely apply the move over for the let faster traffic to go by problem?

There is more depth to this question than first appears. The solid line means that it is illegal to move from one lane to another. In addition, the HOV lane is specifically exempted from the slower traffic keep right rules. However, if you choose to drive at a speed that is lower than the normal speed of traffic, you must use the right hand lane available for traffic.

Does that mean if everyone else is speeding, you want to follow the speed limit and qualify to use the HOV lane, you cannot? Ultimately that might be the question for a traffic court justice.

I often choose to use the right hand lane even if I qualify to use the HOV lane because I am uncomfortable not following the speed limit. When I do use the HOV lane I generally have a bulldozer sitting on my back bumper or other drivers weave around me increasing the risk of collision for all of us. Self preservation outweighs convenience in heavy traffic.

Whose idea was it to use stainless steel cable to trap cars with in the event you run off the road? Those things could be very dangerous to a biker if forced off the road in to the "barrier."

For the answer to this one I turned to the Wikipedia article on cable barriers. It says "In many countries of the European Union these cable barriers are not allowed to be used along highways as they perceived to be especially hazardous for motorcyclists. However, a study of motorcyclist injury rates for several types of highway barrier did not find an appreciable difference in fatal and severe injuries between cable barrier and W-beam barrier. Both were significantly more hazardous than concrete barrier, however were less hazardous than having no barrier at all."

How do we get the manhole at the turn off for main street at the north end of the Second Narrows bridge level with the rest of the pavement. Who we gonna call?

There are highway maintenance standards for British Columbia. Surface maintenance standards don't mention this specific issue but do speak of distortions and specify time frames for repairs. Since road maintenance contractors must make regular inspections, they should be aware of the issue.

This may be somewhat different for roads that are maintained by individual municipalities instead of MOTI contractors.

In either case, one of the two is responsible and maintain contact information for the public to report problems. Check the municipal web site for city streets and the Road Maintenance Contractors contact information for others. If you choose incorrectly, they should be able to tell you who the correct contact would be from experience.

Reference Links:


Submitted by E-Mail

Your item on cable barriers jarred my memory. When the BC Highways Ministry decided to use these, the BC Coalition of Motorcyclists protested greatly. Another issue was the use of “rumble strips” on the center lines in curves. As a result, two highway engineers came over to attend a BCCOM meeting, show some videos and explain the rationale. A computer failure wiped out my record of their names, unfortunately. This would have been perhaps 2008 or so as the Sea to Sky highway upgrade was in progress.

The video on cable barriers was impressive. Cars hitting it at even a 60 – 70 degree angle were constrained from crossing the median. One shot shown a car completely off the road over a cliff edge that was returned to solid ground. Another showed two vehicles in a potentially head on crash that were diverted to a side swipe. There was also the issue of repair costs. A pick-up truck with a few new posts (which dropped into the buried concrete bases), some lengths of cable and splices and it’s done. Armco barriers with solid posts and the concrete block type barriers both required heavy trucks with cranes.

The issue of mid-road cut groove rumble strips was a hazard for motorcycles. As opposed to 4-wheel (or more) vehicles, a motorcycle is always on a balance point. The faster the more the lean angle to the point of traction loss when you hope you do a low side come off. The issue was that a dark rainy night, you enter a curve too fast (for whatever reason) hit the rumble strips which decreases your traction and suddenly you're on the opposite side of the roadway, facing oncoming traffic and scared to try and re-cross the rumble strips. A sudden closure of the throttle when you’re laid right over can probably dump you on the low side ... sliding into oncoming bumpers. Not a healthy situation. For this, the two engineers had no real suggestions as I recall.

After the meeting, being the troublemaker that I am, I button-holed both of those guys and said that the concrete barriers installed on the road edges on the Sea to Sky were absolutely great ... but for God’s sake, don’t leave any out! “Why, what do you mean?” Well, if you’re in a real hurry and riding up on the wall, you look forward and there’s a gap, you’re in deep trouble. One of them caught on but the other guy’s eyes went wide open ,,, didn’t know if I was having him on or not. (I was ,,, )

HOV lanes & rumble strip

Being only a visitor to the city and for the last several years no longer qualifying to use the HOV lane I often wonder if they are effective? Would not eliminating the lane possibly increase traffic flow?

And reading todays posts got to wondering if there is any statistics regarding accidents in the HOV lanes. I have noticed that often the flow of traffic is slower in the HOV lane than the others and when you work your way up the line you will spot one driver holding up literally hundreds of cars. This results in more lane switching than there would be if slower drivers kept right and those that wanted to travel faster could move to the left lanes.

I like the rumble strip but probably not for what it was intended for. Driving the TC on a regular basis through the ugliest sections those rumble strips are great in winter when the road is just a white ribbon with nothing visible. Hitting that rumble strip  especially in a sharp corner lets you know if you are leaving your own lane. As some jokingly refer to it as driving by Braille.

Lane Filtering

How can the claim that lane filtering isn't a vital part of riding safety not be taken seriously? And how can the government possibly justify their position in saying that it isn't worth legalizing?

As I have stated before in this article:

  • Riders who are involved in accidents while filtering are less likely to be injured, with the injuries they sustain being less severe than those sustained in other types of accidents.
  • Filtering up to speeds of 40kph yielded the same types of injuries as at slower speeds
  • Filtering according to internationally proposed guidelines has been found to be "no more dangerous than riding in any other circumstance"

We need to look at the facts with the filtering issue. Not your own opinion, or fear, or ignorance. The facts all point in a rather crystal clear direction at this point. How is it that our government has decided that filtering presents "safety concerns" and won't give the issue a second thought seemingly, while over in Australia they are in the process of legalizing filtering throughout the entire country exactly due to road user "safety concerns"??

Their government found that filtering was up to 6x SAFER for riders than sitting in traffic!! How can their government make that finding, and our government throws the baby out with the bath water on this issue? Something isnt adding up here.

Forcing motorcycles to sit in traffic is asinine. How are motorcycles any different from bicycles in slow traffic scenarios? They both have to act in accordance with the MVA, and yet just because we have a 140F motor between our legs it is unacceptable and dangerous? 

The hypocrisy is absolutely rank on this one.

Illegal Electronic Device Use

Hi Tim,

I had previously asked you for your opinion regarding an allegation of Ilegal Electronic Device use ticket my son is facing. As I explained then, he is adament that he was not using his phone and the call history for his phone account show no activity prior to his being stopped and ticketed, despite the officer indicating he did have video/audio evidence. 

We requested evidence disclosure and the ticketing officer did send a video that is blurred and has no audio. The officers expanded notes explain that the equipment the officer was using was old, the date stamp was incorrect but could not be corrected because of a corroded lock. The screen has a static blur and the officer was not even sure the video was recording and while the audio recorded sometimes, it did not on this occasion. I'm not sure it would have mattered since the video shows no clear view of anything except the vehicle passing by and the officer pulling the vehicle over.

The officer did include what he calls a diagram of how he obverved what he saw, which is two small squares, one with an 'M' written inside it, the other a check mark. A second small diagram has a square where my son was driving the vehicle in relation to where the officer was located. There are no measurements.

The officer's notes say he was facing westbound on elevated driveway, withnessed southbound vehicle, with a male driver, cell held up high with right hand, infront of face, (This is what his diagram is supposed to show, but I don't see it and you can't make that out in the video.) clearly held up, distint (?), emergency equipment, told recorded, PVBCDL, ST (shriver's Test), PS, N, no N, given N, warn in regards to N sign. The evidence was sent by a constable of different name than the ticketing officer, so I don't know if he's moved.

Our son does confirm that he was informed of the reason he was stopped and not to try to talk his way out of it because there was audio/video evidence that he was "talking on his phone". My son also confirms that the officer did not ask to see his phone and could not have seen it, since it was in the middle consol, on charge. One reason he made sure it was there is because he had driven by in the opposite direction less than 15 minutes earlier and saw the patrol car positioned beside a church, which is a common spot for the police to frequent in this area of our City. 

The officer doesn't say in his report that he was parked right next to a building, so his view of the road was limited, and he was located approximately 30 meters from the near edge of the road our son was travelling on, add another 5 meters for our vehicle being in the far lane. Might be a good spot for speed patrol, not so much for observing phone or seat belt infractions in my view.  

We've inquired to lawyers, but the cost appears to be prohibitive, ($3,000), can anyone besides a lawyer help my son in court?  Any thoughts or opinions regarding the foregoing would be appreciated. Based on phone records (reasonable doubt ?) and our son's insistance we believe he is telling the truth and is inocent, but it is going to be a case of his word against the police officer's.

Thank you for your consideration,


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