When the Sitka Assembly meets tonight (12-28-21), it will consider on second reading whether to opt out of a new state law making all-terrain vehicles street legal.
The new state regulation goes into effect on January 1. It allows ATV use on roads with speed limits of 45 miles per hour or lower. But some statewide public safety organizations are pushing back on the new rule, and Sitka’s police and fire chief have called for the Assembly to opt out due to safety concerns.
Sitka isn’t the only community in the state that’s considering opting out of the rule. Fairbanks banned ATVs on its roads in November, and Kenai re-upped its ban this month. ATVs have long been banned on roads in bigger Alaska cities like Anchorage and Juneau.
At its last meeting, the Assembly voted on first reading to opt out of the ATV law. But several assembly members who voted to opt out said they would like to allow some ATV use on local roadways, but need more time to develop rules specific to Sitka.
Once ATVs are road legal in the state, it isn’t exactly a “free-for-all.” Anyone driving an ATV on a public road must first register the vehicle and get a license plate. The vehicle must meet certain requirements, like headlights, red brake lights, and the driver and passengers must wear helmets. The new rule does not apply to snowmachines.
The Sitka Assembly meets tonight at 6 p.m. Raven News will broadcast the meeting live, following Alaska News Nightly.