Sparta City Council OKs use of ATVs/UTVs on city streets between 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m.
SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT) — ATV and UTV owners will be allowed to ride the vehicles on city streets, with some restrictions, according to an ordinance the Sparta City Council approved Wednesday night.
The vehicles will be permitted to drive on the right side of traffic lanes between 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., a time period that mirrors the hours snowmobiles are allowed to operate — on private property. ATVs and UTVs used for snow removal will be exempt from that time restriction, under the ordinance.
The council approved the ordinance almost unanimously after discussion of requirements for the all-terrain vehicles and utility terrain vehicles (also called utility task vehicles) such as headlights, taillights, and turn signals. ATVs and UTVs generally don’t have turn signals, so hand signals will be permitted.
Police Chief Emilee Nottestad noted that only licensed drivers will be able to use the vehicles on city streets, and the vehicles must be licensed and registered. The vehicles will not be allowed to use parking lanes or bicycle lanes, she said.
Alderman Kevin Brueggeman had sought clarification on bicycle lanes because of Sparta’s reputation as the “Bicycle Capital of the World.” As such, bicycles should not have to compete with ATVs and UTVs, he said.
Allowing the ATVs and UTVs to operate on city streets will boost revenues for businesses that will benefit from drivers who stop in the city for meals and shopping, Brueggeman said.
Pressed on why the vehicles will not be allowed on city streets between 10:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., Alderman Jim Church said, “We had to start somewhere … We felt comfortable starting there … where it doesn’t disrupt daily life.”
The times can be revisited later, he said.
As council members discussed the possible need for maps showing city limits so riders would know where permission to drive will end, Sparta Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Heidi Prestwood volunteered to add the information on maps she will be updating soon.
The maps might include day trips within the city, Prestwood said, adding, “A lot of times, men go and do what they do, and women want to check out shops.”
Work on the ordinance began in October, when several ATV/UTV fans pressed the city’s Public Works Board to allow the vehicles, in light of the Monroe County Board’s decision last summer to allow the vehicles on county trunk highways.
The Sparta ordinance is modeled on the one in nearby Tomah, which allows the vehicles on most city streets between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Although several minor issues remain to be worked out, Mayor Kristen Gust said there is time to do so, as the usual ATV/UTV is months off. But the ordinance will be effective as soon as it is published in an official newspaper.
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