All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) riders might have more access to certain roads if amendments are made to rules and regulations for ATVs during the 2019 session for the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island.
Starting in the spring, a pilot project would see the allowance of ATVs on low-traffic roads across the province. A low-traffic road is a road that are used seasonally, like in the spring or summer, but aren’t plowed in the winter.
“I think it would be great if dirt roads were available to ATV users,” said Jason Greenan, an ATV rider in O’Leary. “It would allow us to go to many parts of the Island connected through ATV trails without having to drive on the pavement.”
Right now, if an ATV driver wants to connect to another trail, they have to seek permission from the landowner, or drive on the pavement, which is illegal.
The pilot project may also make it safer for ATV riders.
“It gives us a place to ride so people aren’t riding where they shouldn’t be riding, not on the Confederation Trail, but actually on a trail designed for ATVs,” said Peter Mellish, executive director of the PEI ATV Federation.
Mr Mellish said the PEI Snowmobile Association is asking for change too, and the proposed changes are a deterrent to keep ATV riders off the Confederation Trail as it is illegal for riders to be on it.
Another deterrent is an increase in the amount of time an ATV is impounded if a driver is caught on the trail. Right now a driver would have their vehicle impounded for 24 hours for a first offence. Under the proposed changes, that time would be increased to 30 days for a first offence, and potentially 60 days for subsequent offences. The government has also proposed raising impoundment fines as well.
“The way it is right now, people don’t take it seriously,” said Mr Greenan adding that he is in favour of stricter fines. “If they do get caught, they get a slap on the fingers and they pick up their four wheeler the next day. If they lost their four wheeler for a month, and some fines, it may stop that unnecessary stuff.”
Mr Greenan feels a lot of ATV riders get painted with the same brush. He said every community has a few trouble makers, which affects the people that want to ride their ATVs legally.
He said he hasn’t heard any objections personally, but he has seen some comments online. He said a lot of those comments are coming from people who don’t know the situation, or are prejudiced against ATV riders.
“You put a lot of work and dedication into getting a club started, and trails started, and all it takes is one person to destroy the trail, or go down Main Street and cause trouble, and it’s reflected on everyone,” Mr Greenan said.
Along with making it safer for riders, having access to these low-traffic roads could potentially bring in riders from other parts of the country.
We’re working really well with the government and we thank them for helping us to find a legal place to ride our ATVs and grow our sport so people can stay here and see what we have to offer,” concluded Mr Mellish. “We have a lot of volunteers that are working very, very hard. They’re very passionate and they’re trying to create a product that will bring people here to showcase what we have to offer.”