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Monroe council may let ATVs drive on public streets

MONROE — The City Council is working on an ordinance to legalize driving wheeled all-terrain vehicles on roads in the city with speed limits 35 miles per hour or lower, with some input from Police Chief Tim Quenzer.
The council weighed numerous options dealing with the type of ATVs allowed as well as insurance, rider and safety requirements.
The ordinance would permit any ATV that is street legal and require drivers to have a valid driver’s license, insurance and a helmet (unless the ATV has a roll cage). Passengers are allowed to ride on ATVs but must have their own seat.
The council considered raising the age requirement to 18 years of age, but the council decided on 16 due to the ability of a 16-year-old to receive a motorcycle license as well as the difficulty of enforcing that kind of age requirement.
A Monroe resident asked the City Council to look into allowing them on the roads.
The only public comment during the study session came from Snohomish resident Rick Pratt, who called for the council to draft and pass the ordinance.
Pratt said it’s a shame he pays for licenses and can’t drive something that’s street legal.
“It’s no noisier or more unsafe than a motorcycle,” Pratt said.
Examples of ATVs are quads, otherwise known as four-wheelers, side by sides (quads that have a roll cage) and utility task vehicles (which resemble a golf cart, but meant for off-road activity). The council made several comparisons to motorcycles and smart cars when discussing ATVs.
Councilman Kirk Scarboro recommended raising the age requirement to 18, but was outnumbered by the rest of the council. He added that ATVs shouldn’t be compared to motorcycles.
ATVs are not allowed on sidewalks, trails or parkgrounds. Quenzer said the trails aren’t made for the impact they’d bring. Drivers would be allowed on part of U.S. 2, but only to cross to the other side of town and not on sections of road that exceed 35 mph such as in front of the Fairgrounds. The 522 on-ramp is prohibited.
The council had the option of prohibiting ATV use in more areas of the city but Councilwoman Patsy Cudaback said they should settle on what’s “the easiest for people to understand” and enforce.
Councilman Jason Gamble cited his personal experience owning ATVs as well as precedent set in Eastern Washington towns as reasons the city should move forward with the ordinance.
Sultan allows ATVs in town including on U.S. 2 on the section of road where it dips to 35 mph.
Before the ordinance can be voted on, it has to be read twice. There will be opportunities for public comment during these readings. City Administrator Deborah Knight said the city is “tentatively” planning for a first reading on April 17 and a second reading May 1.
The City Council first discussed permitting ATVs during an October 2017 meeting and requested more information before drafting an ordinance.


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