By Anna Smith
Alberta Newspaper Group
With summer in full swing, it can be tempting to bring out some of the more exciting rides outside of bikes or cars. But Cypress County Peace Officer Anna Mast warns that the time for education on off-highway vehicles on trails is coming to a close.
This issue isn’t new, said Mast.
“It happens pretty much every spring and summer. When it comes to the trails, those are fairly new in Dunmore. They’re finished connecting the east and west sides. So we have been getting numerous complaints about off highway vehicles on that,” said Mast.
“Then on the Cypress County owned property that is between township road 120, and Highway One. We just recently purchased that property. And that’s always been used for mostly dirt bikes and things like that. But that was privately owned,” said Mast. “So we’ve not really had a good ability to enforce anything on that. But now that it’s owned by us, it’s considered public property. But we’re not giving permission for off highway vehicles to be on it.”
The focus has primarily been on education so far, said Mast, which prompted a tweet in early June from the county regarding the rules and potential fines associated with off-highway vehicles on trails and private property.
“The trails themselves were never designed for off-highways. So the big thing is actually safety as well as the damage. So the tires in the weight of vehicles, they’re damaging the trails, especially the edges and things like that,” said Mast. “Safety is a concern as well, because you have motorized vehicles on there, and people walking with dogs and possible leashes and young children. So, you know, there’s no directional arrows on there and things like that. So people aren’t obeying any rules of the road.”
There’s been a complaint of a young child on their bicycle being sideswiped by one of these vehicles, said Mast, though she adds that the risk is also to the often younger children operating these vehicles, who lack training and knowledge of the rules of the road which might mitigate these risks.
“On a trail is not where they should be getting educated or trained,” said Mast.
“The education part is over, because there’s no real excuse for it now. And in terms of the private property, they’ve created a track there for many years,” said Mast. “And we’ve always been concerned about liability, but because it’s privately owned before, it wasn’t a huge concern for us, and we didn’t have the authority to always be out there enforcing that, but now that it’s publicly owned by Cypress County, we are very concerned with the liability and the safety of someone being on there and getting injured.”
Unfortunately, said Mast, there aren’t many places in the County for people looking to use their off-highway vehicles, but that isn’t a reason to risk the safety of themselves and others on the trails or on private property without permission, where it could also be a fire hazard. She encourages residents to review what is and isn’t allowed.
“On the Alberta government website and then if you go to rules and regulations applying to small vehicles. I actually printed this out for myself, because it’s about 20 pages but I have it in my truck for me for easy reference,” said Mast. “It lists all the vehicles They consider off highway; power bicycles, motorcycles, mopeds, prohibited miniature vehicles. And then it lists the driver’s minimum age and all that. It’s a short read, it’s the perfect way to avoid a fine.”