Getting around in a changed world
Buses are running and are back to a pay-as-you-go normal. That might be the only normal for some time to come. Despite having the best safety record of all transportation options, the future is still cloudy. Will customers be comfortable returning to their chosen bus ride option with a 2/3 recommended capacity? Will they continue to wear masks? Buses are among the safest, if not the safest vehicles on our roads. Drivers recognize hazards that the average driver would not see and are able to react in the interest of the safety of their valuable cargo, namely us.
Many vehicle drivers have parked their cars for an unusually long period. It is a good idea to run the engine periodically. The normal parked status has a draw on the battery. Vehicles will need a jump start after an extended time of non-use. Parking nose-in is often an impediment to easy access in preparation for a jump start.
Financial considerations, as a result of the COVID-19 reality, have become paramount for many residents. If vehicles are not in use, there should at least be a storage insurance policy to guard against unpredictable mishaps.
This above reality could very well be an advantage to the taxi and ride-share businesses. Cost and convenience could be the new normal for those who have been adversely affected by the present economic reality. Two car families may opt for a single car reality because of an adverse financial situation during this adjustment period.
Singleton motorcycle riders are the majority in evidence. For whatever reason, it is the exception rather than the rule to see passengers on motorbikes. Social distancing and face coverings within vehicles are more evident than ever before.
Bikes are now more numerous than ever before. Pedal power now rules! Where only a few riders were drawn to use the bike lanes in the first two months of this year, these lanes are now populated with more bicycles than ever before. Is there economic necessity? Is it motivated by Social distancing? Physical fitness may be the emphasis, given the closure of all swimming pools and the reduced capacity of gyms throughout the region.
This new normal includes more space for all vehicles on our roads. The reduced traffic volumes everywhere have resulted in fewer crashes and fatalities. The open spaces have become a temptation for some to speed, as opposed to maintaining safety margins. There are plenty of parking spaces available.
Motorcycle testing by ICBC has resumed in the past few weeks. Higher classes of vehicle testing are resuming as well. There is no word yet, (at this time of writing) on when regular driving tests will resume or what process will be used to accommodate the several thousands in B.C. who have had their road tests cancelled over the last three months. Will they go to the front of the queue when tests do return or be left in the lurch? Stay tuned. This has got to be an organizational nightmare for ICBC. There is no playbook for this situation. The only pseudo playbook for this kind of service withdrawal has been the strikes and lockouts of the past at ICBC. The present situation is new indeed.
Driving schools are now back on the road. Masks and shields are the order of the day. It is the new normal. As with many other small and large businesses, this new normal is all about protecting customers and instructors during a time of readjustment and the gradual easing of restrictions across the board.
Let’s all take it slow as we go, and listen to Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix, who have both served us well during this extended and ongoing period of the pandemic.
Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.