High Desert Hoofbeats
Too much buzz...
by Sena Taylor Hauer
Aug 10, 2017 | 633 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I’d rather hear a Kenworth decelerating down Main Street with its jake brake on than the buzzing of even one revved up four-wheeler on a Moab side street, but I don’t make the rules about traffic. The city’s concern over the noise created by at least one special event involving motorized fun machines has utility task vehicles — and a popular spring event — in the crosshairs of county decision-makers.

The Discount Tire Rally on the Rocks is an event that’s come into popularity the last several years, held each May and drawing hundreds of UTVs and quads. Grand County has control over it, in that the rally requires a special events permit in order to be held. It’s based at the Old Spanish Trail Arena, and it’s one of Moab’s numerous economic boons. But many folks who live in Moab and throughout Spanish Valley have come to brace themselves the most when the rally is held. They notice the distinction of a harsher, more obnoxious motorized crowd than even what goes on during Easter Jeep Safari. It is true; most over-the-road vehicles’ motors are muffled more than the off-roading types.

I didn’t like it several years ago when the Utah Legislature made it permissible for all-terrain toys to be driven on public roads. But I see their argument: How can a body say that motorcycles and sports cars be allowed when ATVs with similar-sized engines can’t be, especially if such vehicles meet the same safety criteria as other street-legal rigs?

The Moab area’s playground has beckoned the burgeoning part of our population that prefers to explore the vast desert by machine. I’ll reluctantly admit that full-suspension crawlers can most efficiently cover miles of the Colorado Plateau more comfortably and quickly than the Wagoneers I grew up bouncing around in. The open-air models with their big tires and low centers of gravity are fun if a person likes to scramble around the rocks and isn’t skilled on a mountain bike or other mode of transportation.

Rally on the Rocks brings thousands of folks to town, many of whom are registered with the event and many others who play along the fringes. The same is true of Jeep Safari. My guess is that it’s a small percentage of people who attend the festivities who don’t throttle down in town, but it only takes a few revving yayhoo’s to disturb the peace. Those same yayhoos are vacationing in Moab on any given day, in varying degrees. Which is why it’s not fair for the county to single out this one event, even with the pleading of city officials.

Yes, it’s true this event is greatly impactful, as is the car show when Main Street becomes as busy as the Vegas strip. Name any event and you can find fault with it. The question is how can we as a community implement controls so that these events don’t overrun our town? Our local governing bodies need to figure out ways to keep the additional buzz from continuing to impact our living spaces. We all need to live peaceably in this wonderful place, and to enact rules that will keep residents from feeling like they’re living aside the Brickyard of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

When Moab was first established, its primary route of traffic from north to south went along Main Street to Center, then east to 400 East, then east again onto Mill Creek Drive. This was the old highway. As times changed, Main Street pushed south and no longer used Center Street for through traffic. Adjoining neighborhoods surely got more quiet. But the last few decades have seen a surge of traffic through the east side of town as tourists bike and drive to Hell’s Revenge, Sand Flats, Mill Creek and Slickrock. This is Moab’s closest playground for outdoor enthusiasts, and people get there using residential streets such as 100 South and 300 South.

People have been sensitive to noise for a long time. I don’t like the sounds of the rally either, but to single out the nuisances of this event when there are bothers associated with all of our festivals and activities is just not fair. The county special events committee will be holding a meeting on this event on Aug. 17. I hope some solutions will be proposed among those in favor and against.

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