The 26th Annual Vancouver Christmas Motorcycle Toy Run

The 26th Annual Christmas Motorcycle Toy Run took place on Sunday, October 3rd in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The ride is the largest of its kind in Canada, and one of the ten largest in North America. The purpose of the ride is to gather donations of toys for children of needy families for Christmas. Every year the event has grown in size, and this year was no exception. Event organizers report that there were in excess of 10,000 motorcycles participating in the ride.

Part of the success of this event is due to the mild climate Vancouver motorcyclists enjoy. With spring, summer and fall temperatures closer to that of Los Angeles or Portland, the weather in Vancouver is positively un-Canadian. Couple this with the rising popularity of motorcycling as a sport and a mode of transportation and you have a recipe for success. An event which was previously only frequented by Harley Davidson bound leather clad riders continues to gain momentum with the rest of the motorcycling community. Although the majority of the bikes being ridden at the event are still cruisers and customs, sportbikes, dual sports and every other class of bike in between can now be found in attendance. Judging by the turnout it would seem that almost every rider in Vancouver has gotten into the Christmas spirit.

About the only people not sharing in the joy of Christmas was the positively Grinch-like Vancouver Police department, who's farcical lack of assistance for this event has once again drawn the ire of many a caring rider. Every year event organizers receive enormous support from local municipal governments, the RCMP and the local police departments of 3 of the 4 communities through which the 10 mile long slow speed run passes. Police, public works officials and volunteers close off the intersections along the ride route and provide much needed traffic control for the nonstop column of bikes, which travel through the area for over an hour. Yet again, the Vancouver Police let every motorcyclist, and many needy children down by their conspicuous absence. One might begin to believe that the Vancouver Police have a problem with Christmas, motorcyclists, children or all of the above. The organizers note that they completed the mounds of paperwork months in advance and received all the necessary special event's permits and even the blessing from Vancouver city council and the mayor.

Once again, however, for the last and possibly the most dangerous leg of the trip which is the portion of the ride that falls directly under the jurisdiction of the VPD and also happens to pass through a busy highway interchange, there was not a single police officer to be found. The safety of the ride's participants for this portion of the rally is a responsibility which falls squarely on the shoulders of the Vancouver Police. Truly a sad state of affairs when, on the very same day, one could travel another five miles west and find four to five officers working traffic control on a movie set. Apparently the VPD would rather dig into Hollywood's deep pockets, who pay overtime to have VPD officers around, instead of giving to an extremely visible and officially recognized local charity for needy children.

Their blatant absence was noted by bikers who attended the rally. In a community as close knit as this, their actions can have nothing but a negative impact on the VPD's relationship with motorcyclists as a whole. It is a sheer miracle that there has not been a serious accident caused by the lack of traffic control. 10,000 bikes tangled up with a few angry motorists trying to get to the freeway could cost someone their life. Let's hope that the VPD comes around, shows some class, and joins the ranks of the many other lower mainland police departments who support this great event. There is always, of course, next year.... And like in any fairy tale miracles can happen....

Merry Christmas and congratulations to everyone who supported this event, especially those who attended even though a 15mph jaunt in a straight line might not be their cup of tea!

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