Spring Has Sprung — And So Has My Suspension

Spring is in the air in Eastern Canada — the birds are chirping, the temperature has soared to nearly 30-degrees and the grass is getting greener everyday. You’d think this would make Montrealer drivers revel at the chance to hit the road, windows down (top down if you’re so lucky) and radio blaring; but instead it makes the majority of us cringe.

It’s no secret that Quebec is the “proud” owner of some of the worst roads in Canada. Now, I’m not talking hard-to-drive like Stelvio pass or the speed-limit-less Autobahn stretches, I mean downright horrible conditions to drive on. And those conditions tend to surface every spring. As the flowers begin to bloom so too do the horrendous potholes throughout the province.

Thanks to our frigid winter, poor upkeep skills and thawing period (now), Montreal roads tend to suffer unlike any others. As the clouds break to give us much needed sun and vitamin D, the fissures in the road seem to split with just as much force opening crevices large enough to swallow smart cars whole (you’ve been warned).

Driving in the spring should be a glorious experience full of fresh air, sunshine, happiness and joy; and instead it’s probably the most stressful time for drivers. You spend your time scanning the road for what could potentially send your vehicle into ruins, anticipating the swerve, assessing the traffic around you and hoping your brethren on the road can deal with your erratic breaking. If nothing else, spring in Montreal makes us all look like first-time drivers with absolutely no skills behind the wheel. When in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

To survive spring in Montreal behind the wheel you have to be crafty — crafty and careful. If you respect and care about your car at all, you’ll learn how to recognize certain road surfaces, possible craters, cracks and even swells in the pavement. You’ll know the size and width of your wheels so you can deftly dodge potholes and cracks without disrupting traffic too much, and you’ll even master the sudden-brake-and easy-roll-over when swerving is not an option.

You know, it’s rather sad that when I was in Kenya I thought the roads were better than they are in my own Canadian city. The suspension in our car wasn’t strained, the surface was smooth — even out on safari the dirt roads were more comfortable than the service road on the TransCanada. And while I was in Cuba we witnessed proper road care. There is a country poor beyond poor, and yet they take the time and money to maintain their roads and keep them pristine. Um, does anyone else see a problem with this?

Americans who visit Montreal just laugh and say if roads ever looked like that in a large U.S. city there would be civil unrest. But of course, we’re too “nice” to do anything like that here in Canada.

With such a car-centric population, you’d think Montrealers would make a bigger stink about the poor quality of our roads year-round. While they are the worst in the spring, the conditions don’t really improve that much through the remaining 3 seasons. And don’t even get me started on the lack of lines and markings on the road after winter … it’s a bloody free for all.

Drive on (carefully if you’re in Montreal),
– M.

Driving in Kenya/Colin Styker

See, Kenyan roads are smoother than Montreal

~ by drivingmsmiranda on April 8, 2010.

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