Thanks for the chance to comment.
It would appear that to the Forest Service the word “access” applies strictly to those in wheelchairs. I think it needs to be broader. There are many of us oldsters who can no longer hike long trails. But I’m not yet in a wheelchair either.
I’d seen an article in Arizona Highways magazine about the Forest Service’s new Saffel Canyon OHV Trail near Springerville, AZ. Perfect, I thought. I can still use the National Forests that surround me by utilizing these motor trails. So this week I purchased a UTV; a more sedate form of ATV that looks like a golf cart. I can’t really use a traditional ATV, my back won’t take hours of being hunched over the handlebars. The comfortable upright seating of the UTV (Yamaha Rhino) lets me ride about despite my arthritis (hips and back).
Today I went into the Forest Service office in Lakeside, AZ and got a map to the Saffel Canyon OHV trail. Marked on it is this notice: “Users: All motorized Vehicles under 50” in width.” My Rhino measures 54.5.”
This says that kids with motocross bikes can use it; anyone with a quad-type four wheeler, but not those of use with the upright seating vehicles that are suited to the needs of the elderly or people with moderate handicaps. We are locked out.
That isn’t access. I understand that they don’t want Jeeps or pickups on these trails. Wonderful. But there is little or no difference between an ATV and the UTVs derived from them, except the four inches of width. We go slower, of course, and tend to be better stewards of the land. I did some research and found that Polaris is marketing a new UTV that will squeeze thru the 51" gates. The magazine that reviewed it said it had one failing: The narrower width designed to meet Forest Service rules made it much more susceptible to rollovers. A higher center of gravity doesn’t work with the narrow stance. So Forest Service rules have had a negative effect on UTV safety.
So I hope those of you looking at access for people in wheelchairs can also look at access for those of us who can no longer hike. We don’t want access to hiking trails, but we do want access to motorized trails designed for OHVs. Without having to resort to motorcycles or ATVs we can’t ride for extended periods.
We deserve access too.
Show Low, AZ 85902