The Bellevue City Council on Monday agreed on education, signs and outreach to parents as ways to address an abundance of underage and unlicensed drivers of all-terrain vehicles and off-road dirt bikes on city streets.
Under state law, unlicensed drivers and riders are not allowed on city streets, but that hasn’t kept young people from riding on them on a regular basis, City Council Chairwoman Kathryn Goldman said during the virtual meeting.
“Oftentimes there are kids making a lot of noise and driving dangerously,” Goldman said. “We should do something before an accident happens.”
Bellevue Marshal Ross Scaggs said underage riders have been stopped and sent home, but the problem is hard to control.
“You could stop 10 a day, but then 10 more would pop up on a different street,” Scaggs said. “Ninety percent of them are riding without helmets.”
Miles of dirt trails and roads surround Bellevue and have been popular with young people “bottled up” and looking for something to do, resident Shaun Mahoney said.
City Attorney Rick Allington said it becomes a legal issue when underage riders use city streets to get to off-road areas. He said it would be important to talk to adults about what is going on to remedy the problem.
“This isn’t a kids’ problem. It’s a parents’ problem,” Allington said.
City Councilman Chris Johnson said it’s important to keep Bellevue a “friendly motorbike and ATV community” and that he would be willing to organize some events for riders to begin an education campaign about safety.
“I want to keep the conversation open,” Johnson said. “Self-policing is the best way to go.”
Council members agreed to explore further the idea of an “ATV education day” that would gather youth and adults under Johnson’s direction to start the process.
Scaggs said he would not come down harder on violators in the meantime.
“If I see parents with their kids riding out to the [Slaughterhouse] Canyon, I am not going to stop them,” he said.
Other Bellevue News
• The City Council tabled indefinitely a staff-initiated proposal to change code to allow the Public Works Department to administratively approve permits for encroachment within city right of ways.
• The council approved a $1,000 expenditure to support a $115,800 grant-funded flood-mitigation project led by Ryan Santo of the Wood River Land Trust.
• The council approved a $50,000 public works expense for wastewater lift station improvements and a $4,300 expense for an Aerzen blower overhaul for line maintenance.
• The council approved a $205,200 semi-annual Idaho Department of Environmental Quality loan payment for the city’s wastewater system, which brings the loan balance down to $3,625,557.