Slow Down! This Isn't Vancouver!
I am driving every day, it comes with the job. However, I am far from an aggressive driver. I actually chauffeured a BC Transit driver around to look at several properties and he commented on how good a driver I was. That seemed like a qualified endorsement for my good driving. I haven't had a speeding ticket enforced since coming to Victoria. More on the "enforced" part of that statement later.
A few days ago, I was driving down the right lane of Pandora street with my wife when a van merged from the left lane and cut off the small red car in front of me. The van obviously realized, a bit late, that he needed to turn right on Blanshard. I was carrying on straight so I pulled into the left lane, so did the red car in front of me. We both accelerated fast, I was trying to make the green light and I thought the red car was doing the same. But the red car slammed on his brakes, with a clear lane and a green light in front of him. I had to slam on the brakes and lean on my horn. The male driver of the red car had stopped across from the van to yell at the van's driver! I almost rear ended the red car - so close! He had a passenger in the rear seat and I think it was a kid. I couldn't believe it. Was it worth it? Did he even realize that he almost caused an accident and potential injuries to his passengers? I don't think so - he was blinded by rage at that point. That accident would have been fun to try and explain to ICBC.
My favourite part of Victoria is the pace of life here. Having traveled to many small islands in the tropics, I love the "No Problem" mantra and easy going lifestyle that comes from living on islands. It's contagious! When I first moved here from Vancouver, John Denver's "Country Roads" kept playing over and over in my head each time I got into the driver's seat. 10 years later, I still enjoy driving here but I'm seeing too much road rage creep into our easy going commutes. The best bumper sticker I have ever seen said: "Slow Down! This Isn't The Mainland!" I couldn't believe it when I signaled for a lane change and the traffic would open up to let me in. What? That would never happen in Vancouver.
So this is your friendly reminder to drive safe and be courteous. Let you island pride shine. Let someone in when they are changing lanes, even if it is a hasty decision to do so. Let a pedestrian cross, even if there is no crosswalk. If you get cut off, shrug it off. Don't flip anyone the bird or yell at them - take a deep breath and get over it. Is that really such a hard thing to do? Don't be in such a rush - you'll get there when you get there.
Ok, so I almost got a speeding ticket when I first moved here. I was driving to the ferry and taking West Saanich road because I like the country drive. I merged onto the highway at Beacon Ave in Sidney. Doing the speed limit, I could not get out of the fast lane because so many aggressive drivers were passing me on the right. It was crazy, it was dangerous, and it was all in front of a cop on the side of the road at McDonald park. Yay! This is one of those things you dream about, a cop when you are surrounded by speeders that you want to get caught. She pulled me over. I lost my island cool that day and so did my wife. We yelled at the cop as soon as she approached us. It didn't go over well and she spun on her heel, went back to her car, and said I could argue it in court if I wanted. I got off on a technicality, they booked my court date for a date I had told them in advance I would be out of the country. I wasn't speeding anyway. I had a reservation for the ferry and had tons of time. I plan my driving life that way, to never be in a big rush.
So slow down, Victoria. Make the tourists and Lower Mainland visitors slow down with you. Don't let anyone push you into driving aggressively. This is the island, not the mainland.