ATV Issues and Answers
The following document was recently presented to the New London Economic Development Committee January 28, 2020 and New London Public Works Committee February 3, 2020. It summarizes the important issues and facts related to those issues.
Rural Roads ATV Club is looking for direction and advice from the New London City Government. We desire to promote economic development in New London but we are limited until there is an ordinance.
A strategy of fear has resulted in never-ending discussions and lack of real progress. ATV recreation is not a new activity, either on roads or in urban areas. There have been years of experience to alleviate fears. Persistence in propagating fears is much more a strategy than a search for truth. The same arguments could be used to take bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, cars and trucks off the road. Here are examples.
Fear – Noise nuisance
Facts – Our vehicles are quieter than Harley motorcycles and about the same as a moped, both of which are on the roads. Over 10 years of experience in cities that have allowed ATVs and UTVs have proven that there is not a significant nuisance problem.
Fear – Safety
Facts – On city streets, ATVs and UTVs are less dangerous and more visible than bicycle, mopeds, and motorcycles. Statistics support the fact that ATVs and UTVs on roads are safer than cars.
Fear – Age restrictions
Facts – State statutes do not allow 12-year-olds to ride alone on any roadway.
In the rare instance where parents and children are riding together on ATVs, there is no evidence that this is has been an issue.
Fear – Insurance
Facts – In a recent survey, 90% of the ATV owners had insurance, and of the 10% that did not, the reason was the ATV was used only on private land. They agreed that if they road on public roads they would have insurance. It should be noted that this vast majority go beyond what the law requires.
The last two points have been used as an all or nothing reason for rejection. Other cities have taken either one of two options.
- The first option has been to write into the ordinance age and insurance requirements, knowing that they could be challenged in court. This is a dissuasive measure even if it hasn’t been proven legally. The fact that those ordinances have not been challenged indicates that this is not a real issue. It has not been important enough for anyone to challenge those ordinances and riders have accepted the limitations. On the other hand, towns where parents can ride along with their children this has not resulted in significant issues or dangers. This approach attempts to deal with fears in a legally awkward manner even if those fears have proven to be unfounded.
- The second option is the one taken recently by the city of Waupaca, which is to write an ordinance that follows Wis. Statute 23.33. In their ordinance there is no mention of age or insurance. This implies a knowledge that people who participate in this form of recreation are mature enough to follow the laws and ride safely on the roadways.
All the arguments have been fear based, assuming the worst-case scenarios. Exceptions are taken to be the norm with the unfounded assumption that ATV riding will lead to chaos, accidents and enforcement issues. In another argument there is already chaos on the streets, with speeding and inattentive drivers. It is, therefore, for our own protection that we are being kept off the road. These were the arguments against cars in the early 20th century. Are we really still there? Where is the proof for these fears?
Not only are these fears statistically unproven, but the opposite has been proven. ATV/UTV riders who use roadways are responsible, law-abiding citizens who are very concerned about safety. In the city, we are not different from bicyclists, moped and motorcycle riders. We continue to ask to use public roadways that are for public use, along with cyclist, mopeds, motorcycles, cars and trucks.