You don't have to travel far to find someone breaching the rules

COLUMN: Playing by the rules in the land of plenty

Here in the not-so-wild west, we demand compliance, writes PAN editor Lance Peverley.

I walked past Bakerview Park the other morning, as a pair of middle-aged scofflaws politely pedalled past me.

They were guilty of two crimes against humanity: the first, riding their bicycles on the sidewalk; the second, and perhaps only slightly more likely to be ticketed, riding without helmets.

Imagine.

And all I could think of was how I, too, wish I was brave enough to flout the laws I have little use for.

Instead, I abide.

I cycle along the edge of the roadway with the flow of traffic – regardless if there is any – wearing my bike helmet, without exception. On late-evening strolls, I don’t enter Surrey parks after dark. When driving, I stick to the regulations as posted and, as of last month, I stay out of the left lane (except to pass) on B.C.’s highways, even when steadfastly driving not one klick less than the posted speed limit.

All of these issues are neatly legislated by our power brokers, when I would think a little common sense would suffice.

Don’t get me wrong. I support helmet laws on motorcycles and seatbelt laws in cars, if only to prevent the painful repercussions for our first responders. And I’m convinced our new distracted-driving laws will eventually save lives, if they’re ever enforced with abandon.

But part of me wishes we had fewer edicts, as each and every new commandment fills me with a cynical sense of unease.

On the other hand – and on the other side of the world – I remember some time ago driving on a small island in the Mediterranean, where the stop signs apparently mean to slow down unless crash is imminent. My lesson was swift, after a couple of drivers following closely behind made gentle use of my bumper.

Further inland, a few years later in Rome, I was given an accelerated tour of the city by a Catholic nun. (Long story.) Traffic signs, lights, even pedestrian crossings meant little to her, as we flew through on our way to her convent – rules of the road be… er… darned.

Here, in the not-so-wild west, we demand compliance, offering so many regulations that we actually hear strangers reminding each other of the laws of the land.

Don’t believe me? Try walking a small, well-behaved, leashed dog on White Rock’s waterfront promenade. I’m predicting the advice will be plentiful. If you’re a smoker (and, really, you shouldn’t be, but not because of any set rules), I’m guessing you’ve had the odd comment cast your way, despite any efforts to puff away downwind.

Late last month, a group of soccer players not far from Bear Creek Park found out the hard way exactly what it means to ignore the City of Surrey’s draconian bylaws. They had the audacity to play their game in a city park without first applying for a permit.

Such cheek.

Their reward was being confronted by a zealous city bylaw official and being sent home after a patronizing lecture from an RCMP officer. (After a video of their encounter was posted online, though, the city clarified its position, blaming a miscommunication and maintaining permits for city parks are needed only for “organized” fun.)

Miscommunication? Sounds like those in charge were more concerned with enforcing society’s rules rather than stopping to consider the reason the rules were adopted in the first place.

But I guess that’s the choice we all make, whether to follow the rules verbatim or to make our own judgments and risk a ticket and possible confrontation when an overly pedantic official disagrees.

As for me, I plan to follow the letter of the law. Otherwise, I’m sure to hear from you. Right?

Lance Peverley is the editor of Peace Arch News.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patricia Celan, named Miss Charity seven years ago while a teen living in South Surrey, is now in postgraduate psychiatry training and was recently named Mrs. Canada International 2021. (Contributed photos)
Domestic-violence awareness a focus for former White Rock woman named Mrs. Canada International

Patricia Celan, in postgraduate psychiatry training, earned her first crown in 2013

The peninsula’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at White Rock Baptist Church – seen here in 2019 – has been cancelled for 2020, because of pandemic-inspired limitations on gatherings. (File photo)
Annual Community Christmas dinner ‘just not possible’ this year

Organizers vow that 40 years-plus Semiahmoo Peninsula tradition will return, post-COVID

Sources volunteers face off at the organization’s ‘Enchanted’ gala – one as a fairy and the other as her magic-mirror reflection – held in 2019. (Tiffany Kwong photo)
‘Rising infections’ prompts move to virtual Sources gala

Silent auction, raffle opens to public at 9 a.m. Oct. 30

This year’s annual Lighted Boat Parade has been cancelled. (File photo)
White Rock’s annual Lighted Boat Parade cancelled

COVID-19 cited as main reason for cancellation of popular winter tradition

Strawberry Hill Hall is being renovated and moved to another location on its existing corner lot in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey’s historic Strawberry Hill Hall being moved a few metres in $1.2M reno project

Childcare spaces coming to corner lot where hall has stood for 111 years

Sooke’s Paul Larouche enjoys gold panning along the Sooke River, looking for small treasures. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Island man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Larouche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Search and Rescue Technicians carry a stretcher to the CH149 Cormorant during a 442 Squadron Search and Rescue Exercise in Tofino on February 28. (Photo by: Cpl Joey Beaudin, 19 Wing Imaging, Comox)
Father and son found dead after weeklong search near Pemberton

The father and son had set out for a day of mushroom picking last Thursday

A full moon rises over Mt. Cheam on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Rare full moon, Daylight Saving makes for a uniquely spooky Halloween – despite COVID-19

We can’t host costume parties but this weekend is still one for the history books

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Photo courtesy of Correctional Service of Canada.
Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder escapes Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Most Read