Snohomish approves pilot project allowing ATVs on city streets

SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- Backroad vehicles were approved to legally hit the streets of Snohomish. City Council approved a one-year pilot project that would allow all-terrain vehicles on city streets with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less.

Snohomish City Council voted unanimously to approve the proposed ordinance. Councilmember Steve Dana said city staff was finalizing paperwork and expected the ordinance to take effect within two weeks to 30 days.

Some people who live and work in Snohomish said they were interested in the idea of having an alternate mode of transportation.

“I think it’s important that we figure out a way to get around without using large vehicles that use a lot of gasoline and pollute,” said Chris Eastland while visiting downtown Snohomish. “If this is a path to let people be more mobile with a smaller impact on the environment, then I think that’s a good thing.”

Some people expressed concerns about noise, safety and speed.

“As long as they’re following the regular motor vehicle laws, that’s the most important part,” said Neal Kazmi, who works in Snohomish.

“If I can hear them coming from my house, I live close to downtown, then that would be a problem for me. But as I understand, it’s not an issue. So, we’ll see,” said Terry Lippincott, chair of the Snohomish Planning Commission.

Other communities that allow ATVs on city streets included Sultan, Gold Bar, Darrington, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens and Monroe.

City council members said Snohomish drivers would be required to follow state driving requirements. If the ATV doesn’t have seat belts of roll bars, drivers would be required to wear a motorcycle helmet. The state would also require ATVs to have windshields, headlights, brake lights and turn signals. Drivers must be licensed, registered and insured.

The Original Pilot’s House Coffee shop in Monroe adopted the idea of using ATVs to make deliveries because the store’s location doesn’t allow room for a drive-thru. Business owner Heather Rousey said they started using the ATV once the City of Monroe approved the ordinance in the summer of 2018. She said the ATV deliveries help them reach more customers.

“It’s become a major part of our business. It adds another day’s worth of business to our books every week,” said Rousey.

Rousey said the unique driving opportunity also draws tourism dollars.

“If you come to Snohomish County with your ATV on the back of your truck, you can go a lot of places now. It’s pretty cool to just see them zipping around town,” said Rousey.

Snohomish County Council scheduled a public hearing on Sept. 11 at 10 a.m. to discuss allowing ATVs on all 35 miles per hour roads east of Highway 9.