Snowmobilers in Whitehorse will need to pass a safety test to legally sled within city limits as of January 2013.
It’s one of the biggest changes ushered in by city council’s passage of its new snowmobile bylaw on Monday evening.
The safety test will be offered online, similar to what’s required to obtain a boating licence, said bylaw chief David Pruden. It’s expected to cost between $30 and $50. Tests should be available by June.
The test is aimed at ensuring riders are familiar with the rules and tread lightly on the environment, said Pruden.
“I don’t believe they’re going out there to malevolently break the law,” he said. “They just don’t know.”
Snowmobilers were previously expected to wear helmets and have a driver’s licence and vehicle insurance, but these rules are enshrined in the snowmobile bylaw.
Riders will face a speed limit of 50 kilometres an hour unless otherwise posted. While passing pedestrians, the limit drops to 15 km/h. No general speed limits previously existed.
Sledders are now only allowed to ride on roads from their homes to the nearest trailhead. Council backed off on earlier plans to ban snowmobiles outright from roads, which would have required sledders to haul their vehicles from home to the trailhead.
Snowmobiles will only be allowed on designated trails while travelling through environmentally sensitive areas. Previously, they’ve been allowed to roam where riders please.
The machines are also banned from designated ski trails and prominent roadways like Mountainview Road, Robert Service Way and Hamilton Boulevard.
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