Editorial: Cultures united in Richmond by signal allergy

If you’ve lived or worked in Richmond long enough, you’ll have heard all the wisecracks, stories and complaints.

Hell, if you’ve spent a fair bit of time in the Lower Mainland and even in more remote parts of the province, you will no doubt have been privy to the legend that is the “Richmond driver” — usually with specific reference to those of Chinese ethnicity.

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Even in South Surrey this week, coaching soccer to 16-year-old girls — many of them learner drivers — the jibes were flying.

Hmm, breaking news here, folks…we — as in me (as in Caucasian or non-Asian) — are just as bad behind the wheel; we’re just horrible in a different way.

Don’t get me wrong. Without fail, I stand every day waiting to cross the intersection of No. 3 and Lansdowne roads right outside the News’ office and gaze in amazement at some of the random and ridiculous decisions taken more often than not by, yes, Asian drivers.

And some of those manoeuvres defy belief.

But for the last seven years, I’ve risked life and limb every morning commuting from South Surrey, dodging lane weavers on Highway 99 and trying to slip the tailgaters near the Massey Tunnel.

Suffice to say, only a tiny minority of those lane weavers and tailgaters — all of whom seem to think the highways are their personal racetracks while driving with the foresight of a 17-year-old boy pumped on Rock Star — are of Chinese descent. And the common thread of this maniacal behaviour is that it knows no boundaries across age or sex.

Even this morning, I had the pleasure of a young guy in a Monster Truck Extravaganza pick-up braking about six feet shy of rolling over the top of me near the tunnel.

He arrived about 10 minutes after a sweet old dear in her Honda Civic miraculously squeezed, with no warning, into a non-existent space in front of me, which I thought I’d cunningly disguised as a “braking distance.”

However, there is one driving trait in the Lower Mainland, which not only binds together age and sex, but also bridges cultures, be they Asian, Caucasian or whatever.

Signalling. Or lack thereof.

I’m not sure whether it’s an allergy thing, ignorance, laziness or what?

But there’s a widespread aversion in these parts to using that little stick next to the steering wheel, which is designed out of safety and, dare I say, courtesy, to inform other drivers of the manoeuvre you’re about to make.

So, the next time you’re about to flip the bird at that “Richmond driver” for an unscheduled U-turn, how about folding those fingers around the indicator instead and lead by example.

Who knows, it may catch on in Richmond?

Alan Campbell is a staff reporter and acting editor with the Richmond News.

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