Toy Run organizer says motorcyclists unfairly targeted

Motorcycle toy drive returns Sept. 29 to Turkey Head

It was a sight to see last September as then mayor Nils Jensen, adorned in his usual bicycle helmet, pedalled his commuter bicycle out of Turkey Head with about 140 motorcycle riders behind him.

It’s safe to say Jensen stuck out among the denim- and leather-clad group.

The event was a success. It was the fourth annual Capital City Toy Run and it filled a half-ton truck with new toys for a holiday toy drive.

On Sept. 29, the Capital City Toy Run will once again gather and start at Turkey Head.

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And that’s got at least one person miffed, as Toy Run CFO Jeremy Vail (chief fun officer) said someone has removed at least 15 of the Capital City Toy Run posters that Vail has posted in the cafe of the Oak Bay Marina.

Vail is concerned why someone would take these actions. He believes it likely stems from a series of events involving motorbikes from last summer, events that did not involve the Toy Run and are not associated with the Toy Run, he said.

“There are people in Oak Bay who ride motorbikes, there are people have come to the defence of the lifestyle and the Toy Run,” Vail said. “I put a lot of time into this ride, we bring together riders from the different motorbike communities. We leave Turkey Head slow. We don’t flutter the throttle or rev the engines all the way through Oak Bay. And we’re collecting toys for kids at Christmas.”

Facebook, of course, is ground zero for most of the complaints Vail receives. But with the case of the missing posters, he’s speaking up. Vail and the Toy Run are being blamed for the actions of a few riders out there, he said. And the reality is, none of the actions were illegal to begin with, and they’re not his actions to defend. Yet here he is checking the corkboard of the marina cafe everyday (he works in Oak Bay Marina) to see if the latest Toy Run poster is still there.

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“At the end of the day, I want this ride in good standing with the community and if one day I pass it on to someone, I don’t want them inheriting any issues,” Vail said.

Vail noticed Oak Bay’s anti-motorbike commentary first started after a group of about 100 motorbike riders went up Windsor Road in the early hours of Aug. 4, 2018. It was part of Sync the Planet, a French-based global ride that happens at noon in Paris (how convenient for the organizers). Riders around the world are invited, and encouraged, to hit the pavement at the exact same time regardless of their location, and share their effort through social media. It’s kind of a cool idea, if you’re a motorcyclist. Maybe less so if you’re a light sleeper on Windsor Road.

Vail even partook in that ride. He partook because he partakes in all sorts of rides. He was also one of 1,500 motorbikes in the Port Alberni Toy Run a few years ago.

“When the mayor’s office emailed me last year asking if he could say a few words I thought, ‘Wow, what a great way to validate our efforts.’ We [did] everything we needed to do legally. Permits and insurance were in place.

“At the end of the day, I just want to fill a truck with toys and organize a ride.”

The Capital City Toy Run starts at Turkey Head and finishes at the Victoria Flying Club hanger of the airport.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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