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Saturday, 9 June 2012

#4: Steering Wheel of Fortune

I love to drive. There's nothing like getting out on the open road, with your foot to the floor and feeling the wind rushing through your hair. Then remembering you need to get that roof fixed.

But seriously (well, kind of). There's a boy/girl racer in all of us and he/she craves to be the Formula One World champion. Well, there is in me, anyway. And I get a kick out of the freedom and liberation being able to drive brings.

However, putting pedal to the metal in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland (which I’m now fortunate to call home) is not an experience for the faint-hearted... or weak-boweled. In fact, driving round here should come with a public health warning – especially the section of Highway One between Vancouver and Surrey (the latter’s very similar to Surrey, England… in that it’s also called Surrey).

This stretch of (H1) highway is permanently 98.9% under construction, due to being built with a special polystyrene-based tarmac (part of the provincial government’s cunning plan to remove traffic from the B.C. roads). As a result, weird and hard-to-track diversions are forever in place, and lanes which you need Superman-strength vision to decipher being as they’re ‘distinguished’ by white lines (painted with a special off-white paint which magically disintegrates in the rain) become virtually impossible to make out in a patchwork quilt of tarmac old and new.

The camber of the road weaves liberally left and right and you’ve no choice but to hang on (to the steering wheel) for dear life as you strain every muscle, vein and tendon in a bid to stay within the flow of vehicles heading the way your car is facing, and avoid bouncing off any mountains, careering into lakes or inadvertently veering into oncoming traffic.

Most cars that frequently burn up and down this particular portion of Highway One have dents scattered freely around their bodywork, because engaging in a real-life game of dodgems is inevitable at some stage, as you navigate your way through the construction zones and try to figure out how in the hell you’re supposed to keep track – and within bounds – of this temporary lane system?

To read the rest of this column, check out BC Johnny's upcoming book: Chilled Almonds. 

1 comment:

greetmorning said...

I have the same complaint about lacking left turn lanes here in Canada. I used to treat yellow light as a speed up sign. Now, it simply means "have mercy", because there are always some cars waiting for a long time to turn left in front of you when the light turns from yellow to red. If you don't, they may have to make the left turn when the light is already red. Oh, boy. It is like forcing the poor drivers in the mid of the road to commit a violation, if not death.