Residents hope city passes ordinance for ATVs on public streets
November 17, 2009
Bruce White, DeLaine Brown and other proponents of allowing all-terrain and off-highway vehicles on city streets never second-guessed the openness of local officials, they said.
Whereas some might have settled back on thinking things never change, or that politicians don't buck the status quo, White said he and others took an idea and ran with it.
The Craig City Council heard the introduction of an ordinance allowing ATV traffic on public roadways at its Nov. 10 meeting, and the council plans to review the proposal for first and second readings at its regular meetings Nov. 24 and Dec. 8, respectively.
If approved on second reading, a system for registering properly equipped and insured ATVs and OHVs with the city will be official. The heretofore restricted vehicles would be legal on all city streets with the exception of state highways, such as Yampa Avenue and Victory Way.
White, Brown and others first approached the council in the summer with a 21-page research packet that included similar ordinances on other cities and states across the West, as well as a draft ordinance for Craig.
The ordinance now being considered by the City Council is not substantially different from the draft first offered, but there are several issues left to discuss, city officials said.
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The Colorado Department of Revenue doesn't register ATVs at the state level. As such, the state won't apply its usual penalties, such as license points or mandatory license suspensions, to a person cited while driving an ATV or OHV.
The council and other city staff are trying to figure out how to make penalties strict enough at the local level to discourage residents from blindly breaking traffic laws.
At the same time, the city may raise the age limit for anyone trying to register an ATV or OHV to 18 years old. The ordinance currently restricts use to anyone with a valid Colorado driver's license, which would mean anyone age 16 and older could apply.
White said he hopes the city won't follow through on the age change because it seems punitive.
"A kid can get on that (1,100 cubic-centimeter engine) motorcycle out there and ride it anywhere in the U.S.," he said. "Why can't the kids of Craig be trusted to drive an ATV 25 miles an hour around town?"
Much of the ATV ordinance's language was built around existing motorcycle requirements, White added.
All of the needed safety equipment for registering an ATV — such as headlamps, tail lamps or reflectors, horn, muffler and a windshield or eye protection for the operator — came from state motorcycle statutes, he said.
At the same time, four-wheelers are taller and broader than many motorcycles, and more stable on the ground, White added, which should make them safer in traffic.
Other residents with apprehensions about allowing people to drive four-wheelers in Craig have cited a possible lack of control on the part of riders as reasons to limit registrations to people 18 and older, and as a reason to vote down the ordinance in its entirety.
White said he knows that four-wheelers are used as high-powered toys, but driving them in the city has nothing to do with someone taking an ATV into the county and running it through the mud.
"It's two different things," he said. "When you're out on the city streets, you have self-preservation in mind."
White added that there is not much difference in riding an ATV around town or a bicycle.
"I work a mile-and-a-half from here, and my primary vehicle is a diesel, four-door, four-by-four," he said. I'd much rather hop on my four-wheeler to go to work than run the tires off that truck. It's no different than my mountain bike I have in my garage. I ride that all around town, too."