To ride or not to ride, where is the question

Anytime there is a controversial issue there are pros and cons to the topic at hand. Both sides have their merits and faults, which are often easier to see when standing on the sidelines.

The more passionate about an issue a person is, the more vocal and steadfast they become in their beliefs, often unwilling to listen to the opposing point of view or consider alternatives.

Take the current proposal to allow off-highway vehicles onto city streets, which was discussed during a town hall meeting Tuesday evening.

There are definitely two camps: those in favor of the proposal and those against it.

Proponents feel allowing the off-highway vehicles, including golf carts, on city streets will help preserve and increase the town’s economy and promote tourism by transforming the area into a destination for those who enjoy the recreational activity. They have been “circulating” a petition through social media that has garnered 1,037 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

Opponents are worried about dust and the off-roaders stirring up the naturally occurring asbestos in the desert, as well as noise and additional traffic.

Obviously, this is an issue that can’t be solved with just one meeting. Aside from the obvious talking points, there are many details that will need to be worked out and considered before any action can be taken.

Floated along with this proposal is the creation of a trail system for OHVs to use. That’s a great idea. By designating areas for riders to travel on it will eliminate some concerns about where they will go in the desert.

In my many trips between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, I’ve observed numerous hillsides scarred by off-road vehicles. The part of me that grew up camping and going on hikes and to ranger programs embraces the “leave no trace” philosophy that conflicts with off-roaders’ penchant for going where no one has gone before.

But that poses an issue of how do the riders get to the trails and where do they park any trailers they use to transport the vehicles or offer a place of respite during their time in the great outdoors.

There are also legal issues to consider. By their very nature off-road vehicles aren’t designed to travel on city streets and lack safety features such as head or brake lights and mirrors.

The state also doesn’t have a minimum age limit or require operators of off-road vehicles to have driver’s licenses making the ability for them to travel on city streets much trickier.

Although the state does require that off-road vehicles be registered, liability insurance is not required. According to the website carinsurance101, many states do not require insurance for off-highway vehicles. It’s probably a good idea, though, especially if there’s the possibility that an OHV can tangle with cars on a city street.

Tuesday’s town hall meeting was a good first step in looking at the issue from all sides. Hopefully, the conversation will continue with both sides being considerate of those with opposing views so that no one has to draw a proverbial line in the desert with the city on one side and the off-highway recreation area on the other.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.