With the recent passage of ordinance 02-2012, the Darlington Common Council amended the traffic code of the City of Darlington to designate all city streets as ATV/UTV access routes. According to Darlington Police Chief Jason King, the ordinance change means some residents within the City of Darlington may now use city streets to access the Cheese Country Recreation Trail from their homes. “By no means does this ordinance amendment give carte blanche permission for every Cheese Country Trail user to traverse city streets as if they were a recreation trail,” said Chief King. He added that it’s important for Darlington residents who may consider taking advantage of this new provision to thoroughly understand the rules because they are much more restrictive than those on the Cheese Country Trail.
The rules King refers to were established following many months’ worth of meetings whereby residents who supported ATV/UTV access routes and those who had concerns met with city officials to debate the issue. In the end, an ordinance was drafted that many people felt would meet the needs of ATV/UTV users without sacrificing public safety. In addition to conforming to all state laws regulating ATV/UTV usage, the following ordinances will have to be adhered to:
n City streets will be open to ATVs and UTVs only, NOT snowmobiles, go carts, golf carts, dune buggies, etc.
n City streets will only be open between the hours of 7:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M. but only on those days the Cheese Country Recreation Trail is open to ATV/UTV users.
n City streets are only to be used by local residents for the sole purpose of gaining access to and from their residence and the Cheese Country Recreation Trail and by using the shortest and most direct route possible.
n ATVs/UTVs CANNOT drive upon State Highways 23 or 81 in the city.
n Must be at least 16 years of age and possess a valid driver’s license.
n Must possess proof of current insurance on the ATV/UTV.
n 10 mph speed limit.
n Must conform to all noise and equipment requirements as set forth in the Wisconsin Statutes.
n Must display lighted headlight and taillight.
n Must operate on the outermost five feet of the street, in single file, with the flow of traffic.
n Must have current registration, which will include a rear license plate effective July 1, 2012.
Chief King states the police department will be working with citizens to keep close watch over the new access routes. “While we have no cause, based upon statewide data, to believe the new access routes will create major problems, we want to make sure they are enjoyed in a safe manner and without infringing upon the rights of others,” said King. Data regarding all complaints, warnings, and citations surrounding the new ATV/UTV access routes will be kept by the police department and shared with the common council in July and again in December in an effort to determine whether the routes should be kept.
Anyone with questions about the new law or who wishes to lodge a complaint should call the Darlington Police Department at 776-4980.