Iowa Eyes Expanded ATV Use

Iowa Eyes Expanded ATV UseAs off-road enthusiasts, it often feels like the only legislative efforts we hear about are those meant to stymie our rights to ride by limiting our need for speed! The fine folks of Iowa’s Senate Transportation Committee, however, are making an effort to increase the ability to use ATV’s in their state. Isn’t that refreshing?

Iowa House bill 619, if passed, would allow ATV’s with four-wheels and front and rear lights to be operated on hard surface or gravel roads by a rider over 16 after being registered with the State Department of Motor Vehicles for $50 per year. While quads and UTV’s still couldn’t be ridden on primary highways, they would be allowed to cross primary highways to continue travel on secondary roads. As an added level of protection, the bill also requires ATV operators under the proposed law to carry motor vehicle liability insurance in case of accident. 

While taking advantage of the bill, if passed, will cost riders an additional few bucks in registration and insurance, the overall idea of opening up more miles to use is a rare boost for the off-road community.

When asked about the purpose of the legislation, Iowa Senator Tod Bowman told the WCF Courier “This is about tourism, economic development and entertainment value.” Bowman became entrenched in the bill after his constituents expressed desire to establish off road trails and organized rides, but had to stop short when such trails and rides required crossing established roadways.

Sure, ATV’s on busy thoroughfares isn’t a likely safe combination, but in rural areas, smart riding opportunities that are well regulated and understood can create an environment that’s safe for riders and motorists alike.

Here in my home state of California, legislative hub-bub regarding off road use in recent years has centered around increased off-road registration fees, required helmet laws and reduced use of public lands. Almost any time a new law is proposed, lovers of all things four-wheel-drive or knobby-tired in my neck of the woods feel threatened.

And while California and Iowa undoubtedly have different landscapes, even here on the West Coast it’s not all Hollywood Boulevard and traffic lights. Much of this country, from the beaches of the Pacific to the Outer Banks of the Atlantic, is still rural. With increased allowed use of ATV’s, Iowa is opening up a world of more opportunity for off-road recreation for families and individuals, as well as creating a draw for riders from other states to perchance put Iowa on their map as a riding destination.

Here’s to hoping that more states and municipalities follow suit and provide greater opportunity to get those rigs out or the garage and on the road.