Small Wisconsin City Has ATV/UTV Street Use on November Ballot

Voters in Wisconsin Rapids will decide whether off-road vehicles will be allowed.

Voters in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, will vote in November on whether to allow UTVs and ATVs on city streets.Wikimedia Commons

Voters in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, will vote directly in November on whether to allow ATVs and UTVs on city streets. The ordinance has so far failed to pass the city council twice, but a petition by proponents of the measure secured enough signatures to get it on the city’s November election ballot.

The ordinance itself is pretty simple: It would allow ATVs and UTVs to be driven on streets in the small town at the posted speed limit by a licensed driver. The arguments for and against the measure are also cut and dried: Proponents say allowing off-road vehicles on streets is good for tourism. Opponents worry about noise, road safety, and pollution.

Similar arguments have played out all over the country, including a couple of years ago in Moab, Utah. We’ll keep an eye on what happens in Wisconsin Rapids. The issue is thorny, and there are decent arguments on both sides. It also touches on whether UTVs can or should be considered road vehicles at all.

Off-road trails are undoubtedly a tourism draw, but noise and bad behavior on the streets are way more noticeable when the perpetrators are in loud, weird-looking vehicles covered in bright lights. At the end of the day, there’s a balanced way to make laws like this work, but there need to be consequences for making the responsible riders among us look bad.

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