News & Opinion

Are Street Legal ATVs Coming To A City Near You?


Cities in Washington Beginning to Allow ATVs on City Streets

“ATV” stands for “all-terrain vehicle,” but it’s not often that we get to ride them on all terrains…at least not legally. City streets are still off-limits for driving ATVs for most of the country. However, that state of affairs is actually changing for the residents of a few Washington towns. Most recently, the city council of Gold Bar, WA, voted 4-1 in favor of legalizing ATVs for city driving. Snohomish, WA, is also considering a bill that allows for street legal ATV usage.

10-Second Summary

  • The city council of Gold Bar, WA has voted in favor of legalizing ATV use on some city streets
  • This legislation is one of a few cropping up in Washington that allow for street legal ATVs
  • No motorcycle endorsement is required
  • A standard driver’s license is required
  • ATV drivers should make sure they are wearing a motorcycle helmet and eye protection
  • Certain other restrictions are now in place for street legal ATVs
  • This legislation should help out anyone who uses ATVs for plowing, hauling, and chores

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Freedom Within Limitations

Of course, this new legislation doesn’t signal a total free-for-all for ATV drivers. Certain restrictions are still in place. For instance, drivers will still be required to carry a valid driver’s license, and ATV drivers will still be held to the same safety and operational standards and laws as the rest of the driving population. Motorcycle helmets and eye protection are required as well, particularly for those ATVs that don’t have seat belts, roll bars, or an enclosed passenger compartment. However, no motorcycle endorsement is required.

Other than that, for an ATV to qualify as street legal, they must have working horns, brake lights, reflectors, signals, mufflers, and mirrors. A bicycle safety flag must also be attached to the back of the ATV.

What Could Street Legal ATVs Mean for the OPE World?

The restrictions in place would still limit ATV travel to roads with 35 mph speed limits or less. But, this could be a big convenience for farmers, hunters, emergency services, and anyone else who needs to haul lighter loads conveniently over all terrains.

Gold Bar resident and owner of Chinook ATV Tours, Anthony Vega, highlighted some of the reasons why the passing of this law is good for the city. He says, “ATVs are kind of a way of life out here. It’s convenient, it’s nice to just ride it to the store on them [sic]. We also use them for work a lot, for plowing snow and hauling materials so it’s been a long time coming. And we’re really happy that it has passed.”

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Are Street Legal ATVs Coming To A Town Near You?

It probably depends on where you are. We can see this type of legislation taking off in more rural areas, but it seems unlikely that cities with larger urban populations will implement this sort of legislation as there probably isn’t much call for it.

Even if that is the case, as a general rule, we prefer more personal freedom to less freedom. We hope the residents of Gold Bar will practice ATV safety with this newfound freedom, and we’re happy that they can now enjoy the roads in addition to the trails with their new ATV laws. What do you think?

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