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Be patient with pedicabs, carriages

Never honk a horn around a horse, as the animals can be spooked by sudden noises.  Photograph by: DEBRA BRASH, Times Colonist

Never honk a horn around a horse, as the animals can be spooked by sudden noises. Photograph by: DEBRA BRASH, Times Colonist

July 18, 2013 By Steve Wallace

Pedicabs and horse-drawn carriages are a great way to see the sights and sounds of Victoria. Tourists from all over the world, as well as celebrating locals, experience a leisurely entertaining and educational ride in the downtown core. Vehicle drivers who see these slow moving pedi-cabs and horse-drawn carriages should be aware of the potential hazards that arise when encountering them.

Pedal power is good for the environment. Every time I see a pedicab driver doing a tour of the downtown core, I am thankful that one less motorist is on the road.

The operators must abide by all traffic laws while they ply their trade. They have to be in superb physical condition to do the job — reason alone for us to be in awe of their daily routine.

It’s important for drivers of motorized vehicles to give extra space when following, approaching and passing these slow-moving, multiple-occupant glorified bicycles. It’s not necessary to beep the horn to announce one’s presence when coming upon a three-wheeler. In fact, it’s downright rude.

The riders giving the tour are well aware of their surroundings and are very unlikely to succumb to quick actions, given the nature of operation of such cycles.

Watch for hand signals by the person pedalling. These hand signals may be indicating a turn or motioning a vehicle driver to pass.

It’s always frustrating for a vehicle driver to be unnecessarily delayed by a slow-moving vehicle, let alone a wider-than-normal bike, but superior speed does not give anyone the right-of-way. Pedicab operators are very good at giving way to anxious drivers.

We should all be sympathetic to the task of the biking tour guides. Not only do they have to pedal, they also have to keep their passengers safe and give pertinent information about our city.

The short delay any car driver experiences should be tempered by appreciation for the multi-tasking pedicab pedaller.

Horse-drawn carriages are another type of slow-moving vehicle. The skill level necessary to manage the horse, customers and surrounding road and sidewalk traffic is amazing. Horses can be spooked. Some unexpected sounds and noises can cause concern for carriage drivers. Even with a relatively experienced horse, there is always the chance of a mishap.

It’s best for both approaching and following vehicle drivers to allow extra space around horses of any kind, let alone carriages. The delay for drivers who find themselves behind a horse-drawn carriage is usually less than a minute. Their routes are designed to have the least negative effect on the travelling public.

Always watch the carriage operator for directional hand signals. They only have one-horse power, while as vehicle drivers, we have many. It takes a longer time for them to turn, get going and manoeuvre in all circumstances.

Never blast the horn when encountering a horse. The flight mechanism is well established in their DNA, and can cause serious consequences for everyone involved.

Operators of both pedicabs and horse-drawn carriages are ambassadors for our city. They have a wealth of historical information.

These ambassadors receive all sorts of compliments about Victoria, not the least of which is how polite drivers are in our city.

They are not perfect. Some make the occasional mistake, but in general, they have a very high level of skill needed to do the job.

Let’s all help them out by allowing additional space and time.

It’s a job that would be an impossible task for the vast majority of vehicle drivers. A tip of the hat to operators of both horse-drawn carriages and pedicabs will be appreciated.


Steve Wallace is the owner of Joan Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island and in the Central Interior of B.C. He is a former V.P. of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas. Steve is a registered B.C. teacher and a graduate of the U of Manitoba.





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