Council Legislation

Proposed Resolution No. R2021-137

Title: A Resolution of the Pierce County Council Initiating an Evaluation of the Reduction of the Speed Limit for Certain Segments of Orting-Kapowsin Highway East and Alder Cutoff Road East for the Purpose of Accommodating the Operation of Wheeled All-Terrain Vehicles on Said Roadways; and Requesting Recommendations Regarding the Same from the County Engineer.

Status: Passed

Sponsors: Councilmembers Amy Cruver

Final votes

September 7, 2021
Aye Aye Aye Aye Aye Aye Nay

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Public Comments

Name Date Comment
James L Halmo 9/3/21 1:52 PM September 3, 2021 Mr. Chairman and Members of the Pierce County Council Ref: Proposed Resolution 2021-137 I testified before the Council’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee about the propriety of passing this Ordinance. I will focus first on the whole issue of safety, which seems be a secondary thought, rather than primary responsibility, in reviewing this legislation. I. Application of State Law. The guiding State Revised Code 46.09 pertaining to highway and non-highway use is 28 pages in length. Will owners of WATVs review thoroughly the required guidance? Some may. RCW 46.09.457 provides a list of equipment and documentation requirements, with few exceptions. Among those required, but not listed in your original legislative action on usage of these vehicles (Ordinance 2020-90s) are the following: • During hours of darkness, as defined in RCW 46.04.200, turn signals meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.200. Outside of hours of darkness, the operator must comply with RCW 46.37.200 or 46.61.310. [Hand signals may be required] • A mirror or mirrors depending on the type of vehicle • A windshield meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.430, unless the operator wears glasses, goggles, or a face shield; • Documentation of a safety inspection; and. • RCW 46.09.460 contains specific requirements for the operation of a WATV by persons under the age of sixteen. They may not be operators unless “supervised” by a responsible person aged eighteen or over. The situation of children operating these vehicles on county roads should be highlighted, not minimized in the county code. It should not be ignored. The failure of the so-called “quads” to have mirrors mounted on handlebars (never seen one on them) raises serious questions how they can be driven safely and legally on our county’s roads. How do operators see what is ongoing behind them on a roadway, without losing concentration on the roadway ahead and not turning into a ditch or crossing a road’s center line while looking backwards over one’s shoulder? II. WATV Manufactures’ Concerns: In reviewing on-line the guidance provided by the manufactures of these vehicles, it is instructive that they are strongly against driving their products on roadway surfaces. Here are statements from two of the major manufacturers: Polaris Off-Road Vehicles (ORV): SxS, UTVs, ATVs & Four ... Warning: Polaris off-road vehicles can be hazardous to operate and are not intended for on-road use. Driver must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s license to operate. Passengers, if permitted, must be at least 12 years old. All riders should always wear helmets, eye protection, and protective clothing. Kawasaki KFX®90 | Youth ATV | Mid-Level Four-Wheeler KAWASAKI CARES: Read Owner’s Manual and all on-product warnings. Warning: ATVs can be hazardous to operate. For your safety: Always wear a helmet, eye protection, and protective clothing. Never carry a passenger. Never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Never ride on public roads or pavement. Avoid excessive speeds and stunt driving. III. Public Safety Comes First: There have been a significant number of accidents nationally using these vehicles on roadways. The following provides some factual numbers: CPSC Urges Riders to Keep All-Terrain Vehicles Off Roads in New Public Service Announcement Release date: May 23, 2018 Release number: 18-161 Details WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Memorial Day weekend approaches and the ATV riding season begins, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is launching a new public service announcement, urging riders to keep all ATVs – OFF paved public roads. Every year, there are about 650 deaths and 100,000 injuries involving ATVs, according to CPSC’s Annual Report. “Even if your county or town law permits ATVs to be driven on paved public roads, we urge you to take caution and keep your ATVs off these roads,” says Ann Marie Buerkle, CPSC Acting Chairman. “Off-road vehicles are not designed to be driven on paved surfaces and collisions with cars and other on-road vehicles can be deadly for ATV operators.” Nearly one-third (32%) of reported deaths, or at least 770 deaths (during a four-year period from 2010 to 2013*), were related to incidents involving ATVs being ridden on paved roads or parking lots. It’s important for every rider at every age to know: • Off-road vehicles are designed to be driven only on off-road terrain, not paved surfaces. • Off-road vehicles are difficult to control on paved surfaces and are at-risk of overturning. • On paved roads, off-road vehicles are at a higher risk of colliding with cars, trucks and other vehicles. • In many states, it is illegal to ride off-road vehicles on paved roads. More than 2,400 deaths related to ATVs were reported for the four-year period from 2010 to 2013, for all surface types, including paved surfaces. An estimated 430,000 ATV-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms during this same period. IV. Changes Being Proposed: First, Orting Kapowsin Highway East. I again drove all of the roadways cited in this Resolution and its partner, R2021-149, and consider the decrease in speed along the very long stretch of the Orting Kapowsin Highway, or what we call the OK Highway, as inappropriate. It is on one of the few long stretches of the unencumbered part of the highway where cars can safely pass other vehicles and large trucks. There is no commercial development, including grocery stores. It is a good north-south transportation corridor, mimicking the parallel north-south State Highways 7 and 161. It has a major plus – only one stop light between the Kapowsin community and the City of Orting. It is a ‘highway’, not a ‘street’ or an ‘avenue. ’Reducing the speed for Wheeled All–Terrain Vehicles, such as quads, is, in my mind inappropriate, and dangerous. Why does a special interest group’s wish surpass the need for pubic safety on our roadways? According to the manufactures, the vehicles not construed to be ridden on road surfaces. Also, why diminish that travel time for residents of the County on a viable transportation corridor? Second, the Alder Cut-off Road West from the east side of Eatonville to Scott Turner /Road East. That stretch of road way is largely limited to 35 miles per hour because of the curved roadways, its bumpy condition, and significant guard rail barriers to improve driver safety. I served on the State Dept of Transportation’s S.R, 161 Route Development Planning Committee, representing the Graham Community Planning Board. During that process, the City of Eatonville wanted to switch this roadway to be part of SR 161, in-lieu of the current connection which eventually merges with SR 7. We did not make that recommendation since only the State Legislature has that authority. However, we did look at it, from a safety point of view. We were made well aware of the safety concerns along that stretch of the Cut-off road. Our goals were to improve public safety, public safety, public safety. I see little benefit to the general public in allowing Wheeled All-Terrain Vehicles along that stretch of highway. It does nothing to improve public safety, but diminishes it. Summary. In view of the strong concerns about the safety of the wheeled all terrain vehicles (WATVs) on paved roadways, it seems prudent that the Council take a stronger look at the two changes being proposed. Your basic legislation (Ordinance 2020-90s) is flawed and needs to be amended, including eliminating one extremely dangerous road section. The changes being offered here in this Resolution diminish public safety at the request of some special interests. Public safety is being ignored. Thank you for considering my comments, Sincerely, James L. Halmo 9806 247th Street Ct. East Graham, WA 98338 (253) 875-1890
Ted Jackson 9/4/21 7:04 AM Please move this resolution forward to allow for safe, sain & legal travel for recreational site seeing travel in southeast Lewis County. I am 62 years of age with mobility chalanges and WATV'S are a great "ADA-OPDMD" (Other Power Driven Mobility Device) that allows me to get out and enjoy the site or economically go to the local stores.
Mike Collins 9/7/21 1:18 PM I support