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home : opinions : letters to the editor
April 23, 2018

4/5/2018 7:30:00 AM
Reader has questions about ATVs in Newbold

To the Editor:

Many concerns and unanswered questions remain about the process the town of Newbold has used to select public roads for new ATV/UTV routes, including the lack of adequate analysis of potential negative consequences resulting from the designation of these roads, in particular the smaller, dead-end roads that receive heavy foot and bicycle traffic from adults and children, as well as a flawed process to gauge public acceptance of proposed routes.

An amendment that will determine the first phase of ATV/UTV routes will be discussed at a public meeting Saturday, April 7 at 10 a.m. at the Newbold Town Hall.

As this amendment will likely set precedence for future route selection you may want to voice your opinion even if your road is not currently on the proposed route. Several of the roads included in the amendment are unsuitable for ATV traffic, such as Hook Lake Road and Autumn Lane, among others. Amazingly there have been no cost/benefit or safety analysis conducted and no significant outreach to local residents prior to selecting roads to determine suitability.

The only indication residents had of route selection was from an unscientific poll to gauge public acceptance conducted after the roads were selected - this was conducted by ATV proponents and not sponsored by the town. ATVs/UTVs aren't inherently dangerous if properly equipped and operated with safety in mind. But whether you believe it or not, statistics show they are dangerous when operated on paved roads. According to a DNR Wisconsin OHV Safety and Enforcement, 2016 Annual Report, "ATVs/UTVs are designed for off-road travel equipped with soft, low-pressure tires and high center of gravity causing them to be unstable on roadways." When routes are created on small side roads that receive pedestrian and bicycle traffic there are bound to be conflicts. In 2017, 27 people were killed in ATV accidents in the state of Wisconsin. Ten of these fatalities (37 percent) involved ATV use on a public road designated as a "route." Only two fatalities occurred on recreational trails. In contrast, in the snowmobiling season for 2017-18 there were 14 snowmobile-related deaths. There is a middle ground but the current process is promoting division not compromise. It is important for Newbold residents who feel they may want more information or more of a say in designation of ATV/UTV routes involving township roads to attend the public meeting.

R.C. Willging


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