ATVs hit the road in Newport for trial period

Published: May. 15, 2020 at 4:52 PM EDT
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A first for a Vermont city Friday -- ATVs can legally be used on some streets in Newport. Voters passed the ordinance in January for the trial that goes till October and city leaders think it will bring businesses to the Northeast Kingdom.

"I'm really excited about it," said Newport Mayor Paul Monette. He's hopeful

will attract riders from across Vermont and from out-of-state, once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. "This is one way to bring people into Newport and into the region."

Supporters say allowing ATVs on the roads helps bring riders into the community to stop at businesses and that it also helps connect a network of trails throughout Orleans County. There's only certain streets you're allowed to ride on in the city and you still have to follow the rules of the road.

"I've tried to make it clear that we're going to be out enforcing the ordinance and for this to be successful we want to make sure people follow those regulations and the ATV ordinance," said Newport Acting Police Chief Travis Bingham.

Helmets and seatbelts are required and no riding on the road between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. are just a few of the rules to keep the community safe and complaints down.

While riders are excited for the change, not everyone supports the measure. "It's been mixed. There are some who are really, they don't want them at all, and then there are some that said let's give it a try," Monette said.

Many of the designated roads for ATVs in the city have homes and apartments. Residents have raised concerns about noise, a possible uptick in traffic, and the visibility of the machines.

Scott Jenness is president of the Borderline Ridge Riders ATV Club, a group that pushed for the ordinance. He says other towns in the area are reaching out and discussing ways to get ATVs on the road in their communities. Jenness said he knows to keep the success moving forward, riders will have to follow the law. "This is an incredibly sensitive situation. We do need to respect the ordinance that's set in place and we need to respect the rules of the road," he said.