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Winter motorcyclists get revved up over proposed ordinance

Ordinance would limit speed, hours

Jan. 23, 2013

Town of Oconomowoc - A Town Board meeting Tuesday night drew more than 50 opponents to a proposed ordinance regulating recreational "ice biking."

The group was upset about an ordinance that would potentially regulate the speed and types of maneuvers they could do on their motorcycles on two ponds in the area.

Town Police Chief James Wallis explained the ordinance was proposed after noise complaints from residents who live in the area. According to discussion at the board meeting, the motorcycles have the potential to have loud exhausts causing more of a disturbance than if the bike's noise was regulated.

The motorcycle enthusiasts packed the board room on a frigid night to express their concern with the ordinance and, hopefully, find a common ground with the officials.

One resident said the recreational winter sport of riding the motorcycles on the ice is a popular winter activity and a way to get out of the house. He said that the location listed in the proposed ordinance is convenient for the riders and that safety or reckless riding has never been an issue for the group.

The proposed ordinance would limit the speed to no more than 10 mph, prohibit wheelies, doughnuts and spin outs and require that the bike have a muffler that cannot be operated "in a manner so as to create excessive noise."

It was also pointed out that the riders are not only able to enjoy a seasonal recreational sport in the area, but also frequent local businesses.

The area mainly used by the motorcyclists includes two ponds on either side of Geitzen Drive. The riders said the ponds are preferable because there they won't disturb ice fisherman and the ponds are in relatively private areas.

Board members asked if there was a way to know when the group would plan a riding weekend or race event - an activity popular with the ice riders. One member of the group said the riding relies on weather conditions. They said their group only rode three times last year and has been out twice so far this year. The group generally rides during the day on Saturdays and Sundays.

One resident who lives near the ponds said she doesn't have a problem with the motorcyclists if they regulate their noise and the hours they ride. She also had concerns about the heavier traffic on the roads leading to the ponds during riding events and wondered if signs could be posted.

The board determined that for the remainder of the season, Chief Wallis and a representative of the group would establish specific riding hours. Wallis said his department would respond to complaints on an individual basis.

The chief said the riders have never been a problem in the past and didn't want the entire group punished for one problem individual.

The board may consider an ordinance regulating the recreational ice riding in the future.

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