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Lead Editorial Reprinted from the Journal Tribune, March
Unwelcome at any speed?
Irresponsible ATV riders create hostile climate for all operators
It's a beautiful day. Spring is waking up the birds and trees all
around us and the last patches of wet spring snow are disappearing, for
Of course this means the all-terrain vehicles are returning to our back
woods and hillsides, threatening to turn both into noisy, rutted
The reputation of ATV riders probably couldn't be much lower than it is
right now in Maine. There are reports of riders ignoring and even cutting
down "no trespassing" signs, eroding stream banks and treating
trails so badly that property owners kick out snowmobiles, too.
Some of the worst offenders are cutting noisily through our own back
yard. The Kennebunk Plains conservation area has been damaged and Portland
Natural Gas lines endangered by riders who've moved boulders that were
supposed to block their way. In Sanford, irresponsible riders have done
damage around the industrial park, despite enforcement actions police and
the warden service.
A case in point: Last Sunday, a lone ATV rider shot through an
intersection on Route 109 near the Center for Shopping and passed cars by
traveling on the wrong side of the road, so fast that if drivers had
blinked they might not have seen him.
This kind of reckless behavior endangers pedestrians, drivers and ATV
riders themselves as well as harming wetlands, streams and hillsides and
destroying the peace of the countryside.
It's tempting to say we ought to get rid of them all, the way the state
ordered dealers to stop selling 3-wheel ATVs in favor of more stable
4-wheelers a few years ago. But the problem is not the vehicles, and it's
not all the riders.
It's the yahoos among them that make life difficult for all of us.
Those people should lose their right to continue terrorizing us.
Police have yet to catch up with this issue even though they've tried,
and continue to do so. Possibly more of them need to get out of their
cruisers and onto ATVs of their own or other vehicles that will allow them
to follow rogue riders into the woods. Maybe the minimum age for riders
ought to be raised. (Ten-year-olds may ride now, within limits.) Or
possibly the safety classes that are mandatory for the youngest riders
should be required for all ages.
If they were generally responsible, ATV riders would have wider access
to trails and fields in York County. There would be fewer barriers and
"no-trespassing" signs. But that's a big "if" at this
Riders need to show they've got the maturity to deserve something other
than the yahoo label. Or they need to turn in the keys to their toys.
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