ATV riders get bad rap

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The use of all-terrain vehicles has come under fire once again, as some people in St. Margaret's Bay area went to the media to complain about ATVs zooming on abandoned rail lines at all hours of the night, keeping residents awake.
The problem is especially bad during the spring and summer, of course, and things deteriorated to the point that residents banded together and hired a lawyer.
The lawyer wrote to Halifax Regional Municipality, asking that the issue be dealt with and the bylaw be enforced. "We've heard nothing back, and that was seven months ago," said one woman.
It's a shame that reckless ATV users help paint a bleak portrait of the group as a whole.
All-terrain vehicles can have a useful purpose: for farmers or other landowners who use ATVs to carry out tasks around their properties. They're also an indispensable tool in rescue and other emergency operations in wilderness areas. Too often, the public thinks of all ATVers as being a collective group of drunken yahoos tearing up the environment, or destroying the property that isn't necessarily their own.
Critics of ATVs have long contended that they are too dangerous to be put in the wrong hands. True enough. Some of them can travel at extremely fast speeds - probably speeds that aren't necessary; riders don't have much in the way of protection should an accident occur; they are often driven over hills, through shallow waterways and some operators simply can be careless while operating them.
It is a mixture that results in tragic consequences.
Most ATV users show respect for the people around them, and they conduct themselves appropriately. But as is so often the case, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the whole barrel.
Another problem is that police have a difficult time enforcing ATV laws. ATVs can go places that a patrol car can't, and unless someone is caught in the act, there's not much police can do about the problem.

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