ATVs are your decision, but consider four major factors

Make text smaller Make text larger


Dear Sir,

I have never visited Bermuda and know little of its culture or politics, so I hesitate to advise Bermudians regarding a policy for motorised, recreational all-terrain vehicles on your railway trails. It’s your decision.

As a resident of Nova Scotia, Canada, however, I do have one thing in common with Bermudians, and that is falling amid a developing controversy on whether to permit such vehicles on our abandoned rail corridors.

In decision-making, I urge Bermudians to weigh four major factors in reaching a conclusion: they are the health impacts, the environmental impacts, potential social costs and the overall economic burden — cost to benefit.

I should point out that at least in one jurisdiction in the United States, these calculations were considered moot by the risk of lawsuits, believed to be too high to allow such vehicles to roam freely.

If you decide to do the long calculation, it is sobering to realise that “ATVing” is extremely dangerous. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States has calculated that the health costs of ATVing in the US is approximately one hundredth that of cardiovascular disease, which is America’s greatest health burden. Almost all ATVing in the US is recreation-based, so this appears to be a great price to pay for leisure and tourism.

The costs of environmental reparations are more difficult to calculate, as the damage is rarely rectified given that we typically live with a degraded environment; whether considering air pollution or landscape degradation or trail maintenance, the environmental costs are very large.

Even more difficult to calculate are the social costs. Residents living close to trail corridors will lose peace and quiet, thus reducing property values, other trail users are displaced, and the health and recreation experience of “trail adapters” — those who continue to use a trail frequented by ATVs — is substantially diminished. Proponents for ATV access frequently cite the potential for increased economic activity, but rarely if ever is full cost accounting done.

The economic activity created by ATV sales and tourism revenues are rarely juxtaposed against the economic leakages to wholesalers offshore, increased insurance premiums, health costs, environmental reparations, property devaluation and displaced tourists’ dissatisfaction.

A full and balanced costs-to-benefits analysis will provide decision-makers with a more reasonable way to make policy decisions rather than responding to the vagaries of narrow-interest advocacy.

GLYN BISSIX, PhD

Professor and Head

Department of Community Development

Professor, Environmental and Sustainability Studies,

Acadia University, Nova Scotia, Canada

You must be registered or signed-in to post comment or to vote.

Published Nov 22, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 21, 2017 at 11:13 pm)

ATVs are your decision, but consider four major factors

What you
Need to
Know
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon

  • Take Our Poll

    Today's Obituaries

    eMoo Posts