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Allowing four-wheelers and side-by-sides to be driven on Sully’s streets

I have done additional research including an opinion from a lawyer with experience in municipal law who had some interesting information. The City of Sully will not incur extra liability by opening up the streets to four-wheelers and ATVs. The code our ordinance refers to is 321 of the Iowa Code.

The State of Iowa is allowing cities to designate streets for operation of four-wheelers and side-by-sides. The City of Sully will designate the streets that would be allowed to be crossed but not driven on. The biggest concern that I have heard is 1st Street and 7th Avenue (truck route to the Co-op). These streets would be stipulated that they could be crossed or moved down until the operator gets to the first street they can turn off of this street. The state allows use of four-wheelers and side-by-sides on designated streets.

We can require that these vehicles be licensed with the DNR, which is a good idea and one that will be pursued. There is section 67 of the Iowa Code that would protect the state from liability when issuing permits through the City or Jasper County. These tags can be issued at the Jasper County Courthouse.

Enforcement is the same as everything else in the City. There are other ordinances that the City has written to better serve its citizens that are not county ordinances that we expect the citizens to follow. The person that was under age, driving recklessly, and nearly missing a child on a bicycle should have had a complaint filed against him/her with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and the parents notified. The City of Sully is a community of 900 people and cannot afford to hire and maintain 24-hour law enforcement. The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office does a good job, not always to everyone’s satisfaction, but they are fair and I think treat our teens/adults fairly. I have heard numerous stories of the past when we had city-funded officers with the many pranks that happened here in town. That was not the perfect solution either.

Allowing an under-aged person to drive a four-wheeler or a moped or whatever is not the responsibility of the City to police but needs to start in the home with the parents monitoring the activities of the under-aged children.

I will ask the Jasper County Sheriff to not be lenient on anyone who is driving under age or recklessly with any means of transportation. We as citizens of Sully have some perks of the small town community, but still need to be conscious of our actions, and what the outcome may be. Passing this ordinance is not going to suddenly increase under-aged drivers using this means of transportation. If they are driving illegally now, legalizing four-wheelers and side-by-sides on our streets will not stop these underage individuals. Other action must take place as previously stated. If you are concerned, call the sheriff’s office, report the incident, and notify the parents if known. We are too reluctant to report these events.

The City of Sully’s insurance carrier was concerned. They handle most of the small towns in the state of Iowa. They were not aware that other communities had approved the use of these vehicles on their streets already. There are several communities that have already approved the use on their streets. There have been examples reported where Iowa towns are making this a form of transportation available to its citizens. It’s pure speculation that insurance would go up – show me the facts and then let’s talk about this. The City would not be held liable as stated in a previous letter Mar. 21, see comment above on liability.

Accidents are just that, accidents. No one wants an accident to happen. If we are truly concerned for the safety of the younger generation, mopeds are more of a risk to the individuals riding them. We as licensed drivers need to be cautious when driving in the city for mopeds, walkers, bicyclists, and hopefully four-wheelers and side-by-sides. I believe that four-wheelers and side-by-sides are much easier to see than the former. Let’s get away from the excuse of who is liable; we have found out that the city is not liable. We are liable as drivers every time we get behind the wheel of the car/truck we are driving. We as licensed drivers need to be aware of everything that is around us, not an easy job. I am far more concerned with the mopeds that are usually in groups and the last one wanting to catch up with his/her friends and shooting a stop sign or talking and missing a stop sign. We as parents must instill the risks of these means of transportation in our children for their safety.

I believe four-wheelers and side-by-sides can be a safe means of transportation in the City of Sully as other communities have proven.