Avon ups speed limit for off-highway vehicles in Wildridge
The change will align the speed limit with the limit for other motorized vehicles
Last week, Avon’s Town Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that would align the speed limit for off-highway vehicles with the limit for other motorized vehicles.
The change comes nearly six months after the council decided to continue to allow off-highway vehicles on Wildridge roads. This extended an ordinance instituted before last summer that allowed the subdivision residents to drive their vehicles from their place of residence or vehicle storage in the neighborhood to U.S. Forest Service Road 717.1B or 779.
Not only did the ordinance legitimize a practice that many Wildridge residents had been doing anyway, but the town hoped it would also increase the safety of the practice through new education and heightened awareness.
In November, residents taking advantage of the new allowance expressed that while the ordinance seemed an overall success, there was one area where safety could still be further improved: Speed limits.
When the ordinance was initially passed in May 2021, it instituted a 15 mph speed limit for off-highway vehicles on the road. This is 10 mph less than the speed limit for other motorized vehicles on the same roadways in Wildridge.
Residents in November argued that this reduced speed was creating unsafe situations on the road where off-highway vehicles were holding up traffic and often being passed in unsafe ways by other vehicles (including e-bikes).
“The speed limit is a challenge, I gotta say, at 15 mph, I’ve had people buzz me, I’ve had people pass me. You can’t really pull into the bike lane and let people by because we’re not supposed to be there. And 15 is pretty darn slow,” said Wildridge resident Craig Lathram at council’s Nov. 16 meeting.
According to Avon Police Chief Greg Daly at last week’s council meeting, the 15 mph speed limit was adopted based on the amalgamation of similar ordinances in Gypsum and Eagle. In his report to council, Daly wrote that the town of Eagle was also looking into changing this speed limit due to similar reports of unsafe passing.
At the meeting, Daly said he felt increasing the speed limit for off-highway vehicles to 25 mph was a “prudent measure to take.”
Ultimately, council unanimously voted to pass the increased speed limit on first reading.
This discussion also spurred a conversation on the enforcement of speed limits in the subdivision, not only for off-highway vehicles but for all motorized vehicles. Resident Jack Gardner spoke at Tuesday’s meeting expressed his hope that this step would “permit the police department to enforce this more consistently.”
“It may be prudent to go to 25 mph so everyone is on the same footing, but the problem is that all vehicles exceed the 25 mph speed limit,” Gardner said. “I’m hoping something can be done to enforce the speed, not only for OHVs, but for other vehicles.”
Daly responded to Gardner’s comments, noting that the town was currently pricing out additional radar speed limit signs for the subdivision and had a plan for some increased enforcement.
While Daly noted that the department was a little short of resources, he said they would be making an attempt to increase enforcement at and around the start of the summer and off-highway vehicle season — marked by the expected May opening of the Forest Service road gates. Specifically, he said police would concentrate efforts near and around the entrance to Forest Service Road 779.
“Driving is a social contract to everyone else — to your neighbors, to the children in the neighborhoods and whatever else. I think based on the number of people unhappy with the people speeding up there, we’ll hit it hard for about a week or two weeks coming up to this opening date,” Daly said. “I think, unfortunately, if we have to issue tickets, people will get the message that this is unacceptable, it’s unsafe for your neighborhood.”
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at email@example.com.