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Suggestions for preventing illegal motorized use on non-motorized trails

from Trails and Greenways e-mail discussion group, February 2002.

QUESTION: A developer recently bought a parcel of property that contains a small section of abandoned rail trail. While the trail is not long, there is a part of a spur that connects to a proposed county non motorized rail trail and it is also adjacent to a proposed open space park. I have spoken to the developer about the importance of this trail to the community. While he seems to think that a trail would be nice, he has legitimate reservations about being able to keep motorized activity off of the trail. He has had problems with motorized activities on this and other properties in the past.

Does anyone have any suggestions or information that I could provide him with?


From Mike Giles

If he has reservations about keeping motorized vehicles off, it would seem that it is a partnership is in the offing. Possibilities could include a management agreement with the County, or a trail easement where the County would assume responsibility for trail construction, management, security etc. Our County Open Space Program currently has several trail easements on private property where we assume the role of management. Works quite well.

From Kevin McLoughlin, Trails Director of Hudson River Valley Greenway --

The best way to limit motorized use of a trail is to get non-motorized users out on it and put eyes and ears on the trail. Occasional monitoring by law-enforcement or trail management reinforces this effect.

From: Mike Schram

TrafficGuard ™ hinged bollard will STOP all unwanted vehicle traffic. Simple to install, low maintenance, and a heavy duty construction (post is 3/8" x 4" x 6" steel tube with a base constructed of 1/2" plate steel).

To disable, simply remove one of the two stainless steel pins (held in place with your padlock) and the bollard easily lowers to allow your staff vehicle immediate access. See for more information

From Michael Jones, Alta Planning + Design

Submitted 2 Trail head designs but notes that they may not be ADA acceptable.

They may be viewed at and click on "How to Prevent Motorized Activity on Trails"

From Bud Newell

We have several multi-use trails in Maine that allow snowmobile/ATV traffic along with non-motorized trail use. To keep the street vehicles off these trails, we erect gates at all road crossings. These gates are constructed to allow for an opening along one side for authorized trail traffic (4-5 foot opening to accommodate ATV/equestrian use). During the winter season, the gates are opened for snowmobile use.

There are other trails that are designated as non-motorized use only and are posted as such. Signage does not always prevent ATV's or snowmobiles from using them, and getting an agency with the ability/interest to enforce non-motorized trail use is often a problem. Most municipal/county law enforcement agencies do not have department snowmobiles/ATV to catch violators with.

We do have a state grant program that allows municipalities to apply for funds for natural resource/education programs. We are currently monitoring a pilot program that allowed a municipal police department to purchase an ATV for trail enforcement.

The trail is multi-use motorized/non-motorized 16 mile long trail running through 3 towns. Through a mutual aid agreement among the 3 towns, the town with the ATV provides trail enforcement for the other 2 towns. Warnings and summons have been issued for speeding, operating under the influence, unregistered vehicles, underage operators, loud (or no) mufflers - all motorized violators. Fines paid by the violators go into a fund for trail maintenance.

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