Thursday, November 14, 2013

Snow Tire Crackdown in British Columbia

Vancouver is surrounded by Mountains and except for the Lower Mainland area of BC (and Southern Vancouver Island), during the winter months, namely from October 1st to April 30th every year there is a requirement on "most" of our highways to have Winter Tires installed  OR  carry chains


Here is a small section of a Map from the official Government website   (more info HERE)

Notice the Purple lines where winter tires are required.  On the news lately they have been discussing winter tires vs all season tires which most of the drivers use out here as we get very little snow as compared to other areas of our Country.  Here is an except from our Motor Vehicle Act


Now there has been an ongoing argument with the Province of BC, the various jurisdictions and the Motor Vehicle Department as to what tires are considered to be Winter Tires.   Our Motor Vehicle Department is under the wing of ICBC: The Insurance Corporation of BC and they say that as long as your tires are marked  "M & S"   for Mud and Snow then they are  considered to be Winter Tires.

The RCMP say that is not good enough and Winter tires must be stamped with the icicle mark, like this


BC is not motorcycle friendly and I noticed this thread on our local Sportbike forum where a group of riders were riding during the first week of October in bright 20°c sunshine and were stopped by the RCMP for not having snow tires installed on their motorcycles with tires marked with the icicle symbol.  They are not using discretion as to the conditions and are merely just looking at the calendar and upholding the letter of the Law.   Read more   HERE2

If you look at that first map again you will notice that DAR is stranded in Victoria as Hwy 1 is marked purple because as you ride north from Victoria you have to go over the Malahat Mountain.

I am confined to the Fraser Valley and cannot go farther East than Hope, BC because as you get close to Hope you have to go through Sumas Prairie, one of our worst snow areas where they have large accumulations of blowing snow and drifts.

I got to thinking that they don't really make snow tires marked with that icicle symbol so that means you wouldn't be able to ride a Hack either.   I also got to thinking that many times Spring weather comes early, much earlier than April 30th and many bikers dust off their bikes and ride up the Sea to Sky highway to Squamish when the weather turns, but with this crackdown you won't be able to ride up there until after May 1st.   All because of an arbitrary date without discretion to deviate because Winter is over.


19 comments:

  1. I love Canada. here we have a constitutional crisis over paying out national bills. there they get their knickers in a twist over tires .

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    1. Mr Conchscooter:

      We have many laws directed against motorcyclists. You are also not allowed to stretch your legs by standing on your pegs as it is considered to be "stunting".

      You should have landed here in BC rather than KW when you first arrived

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  2. This seems to be the rule in Germany - certainly your insuarnce will be invalidated if you don't have an icicle on your car tyre - I don't know about motorcycles..

    In England people think that driving a 4X4 on ice defies the laws of physics and few people fit winter tyres. Then again we normally have quite mild conditions.

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    1. Actually in Germany the car insurance would cover potential damage on other vehicles / persons but they will subrogate against the responsible person to get the money back. For motorcycles the same rule applies.

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    2. Sonja/Nikos:

      Same here with ICBC. If you are on a highway/road where snow tires are required and you get into a mishap, you would not be covered by insurance but they will pay the other party, not pay for your damage, and also go after you for recovery of funds paid out. The same rules here as in Germany BUT they are now enforcing the Icicle symbol for motorcycle tires.

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    3. I have never seen icicle tyres for motorcycles!

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  3. So can you get away with carrying a box of chains on the back of your bike? If it is winter tire OR chains that would solve the issue. But if it was winter tires only, not so much.

    Here the big debate seems to be studded tires (ruining our roads) vs siped tires.

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    1. Trobairitz:

      There is no mentioning whether these chains had to fit, just that you have to carry a set. I don't think they make motorcycle winter tires with the Icicle symbol. Not sure about Dual Sport tires. For our roads with frost, studs have less grip and more slippage than Ice Radials. Stud I would imagine would be better for colder areas where you have a thick ice layer covered with snow on top, sort of like in Fairbanks

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  4. Yep, just carry chains. That seems to be the simple solution. I agree that many tires that are labeled "M/S" have rubber compounds that are too hard or have too few edges to work well on icy roads. Up here, studded tires are common on 2WD cars (and 1WD bikes), all-season tires on AWD cars and SUVs. Siping does reduce the life of most tires but is common on large trucks (but they carry and use chains). My truck has "M/S tread" tires but I carry chains for when the roads are really icy. IMHO, nothing works as well as chains everything else is a distant second. As far a s BC wanting to enforce the laws as written, they must need the revenue...

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    1. Richard:

      Tires without the Icicle symbol are only good down to 7°c (44°F), then the rubber gets hard and creates more slippage. Icicle tires are more flexible in colder weather, thus grip more. Chains wouldn't work here as only the side streets are clogged if it ever snows, which is seldom. I used to have a set of cable roller chains which I put over summer tires, but that was many years ago.

      I have a full set of winter icicle tires on my Honda commuter car

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    2. Heidenau makes snow tires for sidecar rigs. Unfortunately, the only size they make is for the Ural. Mine uses three different size tires (poor design, eh?) and none of them match the Ural.

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    3. Richard:

      these are things we don't think about. Bikes usually have different sized front and rear wheels, but then too bad your sidecar didn't use one of the other sizes, then you would only have to worry about two sizes . . . either that or just go buy the Ural

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  5. Bobskoot, yet another example of the nanny state in action .... bureaucrats rule. As RichardM said, carry chains.....what a bunch of BS.

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    1. Dom:

      I never thought that the Police/RCMP would enforce tire restrictions onto Motorcycles. Often times our Winter ends earlier than April 30th. This would mean that we wouldn't be able to ride our bikes on those Purple routes without getting a ticket, even though there wouldn't be any snow or ice. Just an arbitrary date on a calendar

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  6. Up to now, I've been only worrying about spotting black ice during the commute each day. Now I have to worry about roadside tire inspections as well. So much for enjoying the journey.

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    1. Robert:

      No problem here in the Lower Mainland. See the map above. Only need winter tires on the purple routes above, Green roads are okay

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  7. I can tell you that most Minnesotan's get by all winter with M&S tires. Some of us actually use real snow tires and the difference in winter traction is huge. It would seem that since so many of us moved to FWD autos, M&S tires seemed to accepted as adequate. Our road clearing equipment, most of the time, does a very good job on many if not most of the roads. Those of us in rural areas benefit more from true Snow tires than the more urban folks.

    Mandatory always raises hackles with me upon first impression but to be fair, we are all in this together. If there weren't so many of us, going as fast, if we were paying more attention and treating driving as a practiced skill, well then......but.

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  8. Ever since that moron got busted for going 300 kph on his Yamaha there seems to be a war against motorcycles by both our legislators and the police. There is nothing wrong with requiring appropriate safety equipment and regulating unsafe riding practises but there needs to be common sense in their application.

    The idea has always been that drivers or riders need to have proper equipment in winter conditions. Busting riders for not having icicle symbol tires that don't exist on a warm sunny day is very disrespectful to the public.

    Clearly it's time to turn up the heat on our political masters and make them see reason, show some sensible leadership and get law enforcement back under control.

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