Life in the fast lane has new meaning in B.C.

From my observations behind the wheel, people make strange choices at any speed.

An old boyfriend’s father was infamous for saying, “It’s a speed limit – not a speed minimum.”

The provincial government’s announcement last week of increased speed limits on three highways in B.C. to 120 km/h got me thinking of his old saying. I was barely out of my teens and carried with me that fearless, immortal outlook that plagues all young people, so we heard it a lot.

I’ve driven a lot of highways in B.C. and manage the Coquihalla at least once per year. I’m no slouch on the gas pedal, but I’m comfortable at the highway’s old limit of 110 km/h. Others aren’t, often blowing by me as if I was stopped to fix a flat tire.

The lure of the open road has always been a strong one for me. I don’t take the Nanaimo Parkway in to work because when the sun shines in blue skies and Tom Petty comes on the radio, I’m not confident that I’ll actually take that Northfield Road exit. So I look forward to the long drives back to the hometown in the Interior, rolling along with the sweeping curves and stunning vistas that make up B.C.’s highway system.

After a traffic study that showed drivers on the Coquihalla averaged speeds of 118 km/h, the government threw up its hands and raised the limits not only from Hope to Kamloops, but also the Okanagan Connector, from Merritt to Kelowna, and the Inland Island Highway from Parksville to Campbell River.

Nanaimo RCMP was out Thursday evening near the Cedar Road-Duke Point interchange reminding drivers that the limits around Nanaimo have not increased – we’re still expected to drive 50 km/h from Needham Street past the Days Inn. But it could be worse – Victoria is still considering 40 km/h as its default speed within the city.

It remains to be seen whether any of this will have an effect on car crashes. I somehow doubt it, because from my observations of the past 14 years behind the wheel, people make strange choices at any speed.

Take Departure Bay Road, for instance. You’ll get stuck behind someone doing 40 km/h up the hill from the beach to Montrose Avenue, and then speed up to 60 km/h once the school zone limit takes effect. That’s a minimum $196 fine, by the way. Or the four-way stops in Harewood, which don’t mean ‘stop’ at all. You only have to log on to Twitter, or read our Beefs and Bouquets section, to see how badly people in Nanaimo drive.

Or it might affect animals and the environment more than people. Some groups are claiming the higher speeds will increase the number of human/wildlife crashes. Or that driving at higher speeds will increase greenhouse gases.

Driving has always been and probably always will be a source of freedom. It used to drive me to distraction to get stuck behind someone doing less than the speed limit. But in my old age I’ve learned to enjoy the drive itself, rather than the destination.

This summer, when I take my annual pilgrimage to the Interior, I might be one of those people – the kind who takes it at her own pace, in the slow lane (or, as I’ve heard it described, the calm lane). I hope you’re not too irritated when you blow by me at 120 km/h.

editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Nanaimo artist Dave Stevens is displaying paintings inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library from now until the end of fall. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo writer and artist’s work goes up at Harbourfront library

Dave Stevens presents work inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

Stuffed toys, many with donations pinned to them, are piled in the Lions Pavilion at Maffeo Sutton Park at a vigil May 31 honouring the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were discovered outside a residential school in Kamloops. (News Bulletin file photo)
Thousands donated to child and family service agency following Nanaimo vigil

Toys and money donated to Kw’umut Lelum child and family services

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Most Read