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Dubuque County considers allowing ATVs on public roads

November 12, 2018

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Nearly half of Iowa’s counties have approved use of all-terrain or utility vehicles for public roadways, and at least one large county is considering joining the trend.

Dubuque County supervisors have been considering the issue since two riding groups approached the board in February seeking access to roads, The Telegraph Herald reported . The vehicles are currently only permitted on county roads for agricultural reasons.

The board created a citizen committee to prepare a report as supervisors consider an ordinance. Officials expect the report to be ready in January.

Supporters of the vehicles say it will have economic benefits by attracting riders to the area.

“If we’re going to keep the small towns alive, this is probably the best economic way to get people into small towns and keep the traffic flowing,” said Dale Leslein, of the Dubuque County ATV/UTV Alliance.

Opponents raised concerns about safety and the potential for crashes.

ATV manufacturers say the vehicles are designed for off-road use. Many models have a higher center of gravity than cars, meaning they roll easily across uneven ground but are more likely to topple over at high speed. They also have low-pressure tires that can make handling difficult on paved, dirt or gravel roads.

Riders say manufacturers’ warnings are more about limiting liability than averting serious danger.

Dubuque County Sheriff Joe Kennedy has said also he’s worried about the county’s high population compared to smaller counties that allow ATV riding. Dubuque County has about 97,000 people, while Warren County, the most populous county to currently allow ATV riding, has a population of about 50,000.

Story County is also nearing a formal discussion of the ATV issue, said Rick Sanders, chairman of Story County’s Board of Supervisors.

“I think it’s something that all (county supervisors) are going to deal with at some point,” he said.

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com

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