The Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association is hopeful that New York legislators will approve the bills sponsored by Assemblywoman Addie Russell (A4971) and Senator Patty Ritchie (S1946). The bills would modernize the definition of all-terrain vehicle to allow popular side-by-side recreational vehicles weighing up to 1,500 pounds to be registered and ridden on existing off-highway vehicle trails in New York. The most popular utility and recreational ATVs in the U.S. are legal in every state – except New York. This legislation is very important to the viability of New York’s powersports dealers and its tourism industry.
Hundreds of thousands of New York residents enjoy off-highway vehicle recreation with their families and are responsible stewards of the environment, volunteering their time to maintain trails to ensure future generations have the same opportunity to get outdoors. Many riders currently go to neighboring states to buy and ride side-by-side vehicles. New York is losing millions of dollars not only in lost registration fees and sales taxes, but more significantly in tourism dollars to local restaurants, hotels and gas stations. The economies of rural communities across the state would have the opportunity to realize significant benefits. Hundreds of powersports dealers and service shops in New York have experienced a decline in sales and revenue as consumers shift to this newer product segment and these small businesses are currently losing sales to neighboring states. If passed, dealerships could hire more employees and the state could realize increased tax revenue.
In the final days of the session, environmental groups are opposing the change, claiming that public lands would be damaged by allowing vehicles heavier than 1,000 pounds to be ridden on New York’s managed trail systems. The legislation does not open any additional public lands to motorized recreation. It would, however, provide a tool to better manage off-highway vehicle recreation by registering these side-by-side vehicles as all-terrain vehicles and regulating them under the extensive safety laws that New York already has in place for ATVs.