Government

Linn County supervisors OK use of ATVS on some county roads

Minors have to wear helmets, pass a DNR course on driving all-terrain vehicles

A line of all-terrain and utility vehicles are shown at a store in Vinton. Linn County supervisors on Tuesday gave initi
A line of all-terrain and utility vehicles are shown at a store in Vinton. Linn County supervisors on Tuesday gave initial approval to an ordinance that will allow the use of all-terrain vehicles on certain county roads. (The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County supervisors on Tuesday gave initial approval to an ordinance that will allow all-terrain vehicles and off-road vehicles on certain county roads.

It was a split vote, with Supervisors Brent Oleson and Stacey Walker in favor, and Supervisor Ben Rogers opposed.

The ordinance, which must be approved two more times before being enacted, will allow registered all-terrain vehicles on secondary roads, which are mostly gravel. ATVs will not be allowed on 28 major county roads, including Blairs Ferry Road, County Home Road and Mount Vernon Road outside of Cedar Rapids.

Rogers objected to the measure because, he said, allowing ATVs on public roadways does not “improve road safety.”

“I maintain having ATVs on public roadways will make our roads less safe,” Rogers said. “They are designed to be off-road vehicles. They have a high center of gravity, low-pressure tires designed for off-road and deep treads designed to grab surfaces but not release. This can make ATVs unpredictable in their performance.”

Rogers cited examples of ATV manufacturers warning the vehicles are for off-road use only, specifically because ATVs do not have turn signals and may be difficult for other drivers to see.

“They can create safety obstacles for other drivers,” Rogers said. “It does not feel like it’s a vehicle compatible with public safety.”

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Even though Rogers said he plans to vote against the ordinance for the second and third readings, he said he appreciated Oleson for addressing safety concerns after supervisors tabled the original in March.

As now written, the ordinance specifies a 35 mph speed limit and that ATVs can be driven only during daylight hours. Operators must have a valid driver’s license.

The ordinance now will allow ATV operators to be younger than 18, as initially proposed, if they have a valid requiring driver’s license and pass a Department of Natural Resources education course about ATV use and earn a certificate.

Also, minors must wear helmets when operating or riding an ATV on public roads.

The second reading of the ordinance is set for noon Wednesday with the final reading at 12:30 p.m. June 3.

Because of coronavirus restrictions, the public cannot attend meetings of the county board. To access a meeting, go to linncounty.org/123/Board-of-Supervisors and click on the agenda. Information about how to dial into the meeting is on each agenda.

For questions, contact the Board of Supervisors Office at (319) 892-5000 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

During March public hearings about the proposed ordinance in Central City and Cedar Rapids, supervisors heard from more than 200 residents.

People on both sides feel strongly for “legitimate and valid reasons,” Walker said.

“It’s tough to construct policy that is in the public interest, will work for government and can be forward-looking,” Walker said.

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Oleson said the board can always amend the ordinance in the future if there are problems or concerns.

“I think, through a lot of collaboration, we’ve come up with something workable for the public who has been asking for this for quite some time,” he said.

Comments: (319) 398-8411; grace.king@thegazette.com

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