Treat ATVs and pedal bikes the same

Treat ATVs and pedal bikes the same This letter is written in response to the numerous complaints against ATV users. I was born and raised in the Yukon, and have been an avid ATV user, hiker, horseback rider and boat operator for many years. I have read

This letter is written in response to the numerous complaints against ATV users. I was born and raised in the Yukon, and have been an avid ATV user, hiker, horseback rider and boat operator for many years. I have read many letters in the paper, as well as heard numerous complaints against ATV users. I feel I can write this letter from a nonbiased opinion as I can see clearly from both sides of the party.

My family and friends always ride our ATVs keeping in mind the consideration and safety of other people on the trails. When approaching people on the trail, my friends, family and I always slow down, if not almost to a complete stop, for hikers and pedal bikers. While exercising etiquette on the trail, we have had verbal attacks on us and have even, in some instances, had rocks thrown at us.

A number of years ago, I was on a winter hike in the Golden Horn area when we were approached by a bunch of skiers who started yelling at us for walking on “their” trail and destroying their ski tracks. There was a two-foot drift of snow on either side of the ski trail. This was not a designated ski trail. Excuse me? Who are you to tell me this is your trail?

My brother was at the popular Poker Run this year and had rocks thrown at him, as well. This is a well-known quad event every year.

I have spent a number of years horseback riding in the Yukon as well and have had a number of mishaps on the trail from not only aggressive riders, but dog sledders and hikers with their dogs. Yet again, I exercise all these uses of transportation and I think everyone needs to sit back and think a little more responsibly about their means of transportation.

Everyone has a right to the way they want to explore the Yukon, whether it be bike, ATV, hiking, dog sledding or pedal biking. When I am on a horse, or hiking with my dogs, I can hear an ATV coming from quite a distance, and have ample time to simply step off the path to avoid a hazard. But I find most people in general will decide to be stubborn and think it’s a better idea to hold your ground and create friction between both parties.

You as an individual can do the responsible thing and create a safe path for both parties. I am not going to sit here and tell you that all Yukon ATV riders are responsible people. The majority of those irresponsible people are quite young and don’t realize the danger they are creating for other people, and don’t usually realize this until they are older. But in most instances, these mishaps are happening on the trail because no one thinks about the other party, and will choose the stubborn way.

Many times I have been out with my dogs, with the full knowledge that anything can come down the trail at any time, and I have to be prepared. It is not someone else’s fault that I have four dogs on the trail. If I have grief out on the trail it is because I have a lot of dogs, I wasn’t paying attention and I wasn’t prepared. I cannot fault the individual who is on the machine as we all know they travel fast, and cannot see hikers or pedal bikers coming down the trail. As a responsible hiker, I am going to step off the trail a few steps, which I don’t think is asking too much, in order to prevent an accident.

Now, talking about having a bit of tolerance for other individuals, us Yukoners are all used to having tolerance and patience for pedal bikers. The many holdups on the highways for bike relays is extremely frustrating and dealing with irresponsible pedal bikers downtown is an ongoing concern. Many of these pedal bikers downtown are not wearing helmets, do not have lights in the dark, do not look around to see if the coast is clear, and continuously cut people off. This is extremely frustrating to deal with on a daily basis but we deal with it!

We have patience for these people, yet when on the trail they do not show any patience for anyone. They believe it is their trail, and continually complain about other users. Just because certain people are not using the mode of transportation you do, does not give you the right to try to impose laws on others. ATV users have had a lot of patience dealing with hikers and bikers, yet they have no patience for us. Yes, our machines go fast. Fast for a lot of hikers is 10 kilometres an hour! Like I said before, I’ve slowed down considerably for people on the trail only to have rocks thrown at me, and everyone is wondering why that ATV driver stopped and gunned his engine.

There are laws being implied here that every ATV has to be registered. This is another poor attempt at trying to give the bottle to the baby. If an ATV gets called in with a complaint of speeding, it is going to be a he-said, she-said situation. I can see many ATV operators getting wrongly accused of speeding. Then the situation is just going to get ugly and is going to create a lot of animosity between ATV operators and hikers/pedal bikers.

It is not going to work and if you think I am going to register my machines for the sole purpose of some flake to call me in and create a bunch of grief, when I was going a responsible speed Ð you are living a fantasy. I have been in every situation from riding my dirt bike, riding a horse, hiking with my dogs as well as boating. I have seen every side of the party and it all comes down to common sense.

We all have a right to share the Yukon, and Yukoners in general are pretty easy-going people. With a bit of understanding from all parties, we can all get along and show consideration on the trail and just do the responsible thing. Yes, machines are a lot faster, but it does not mean we don’t have a right to enjoy what we love to do.

I do think the individuals who drive like jerks in the general city area should be accountable for what they do and I’m sure with the help of the community, you all know who it is, and where they live.

Parents are also turning a blind eye on how their teens are riding, which is wrong as well. Parents are not stupid. But I am not going to let a few irresponsible ATV operators ruin my way of life in the Yukon. If that’s the case, then the few individual pedal bikers in town have given all pedal bikers a bad reputation and I think all pedal bikers who want to ride on the city streets should have registration and insurance, so I can call you in when you’re driving all over the road cutting vehicles off.

The same laws for everyone. For all the irresponsible offroad riders out there that are making this hard for responsible riders, a message to you. We will call you in! We all share the same passion. Let’s exercise some manners on the trails before someone gets hurt.

Rita Smith

Whitehorse

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