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Notice to All Snowmobilers
Regarding Important Changes to OFSC Trails

Throughout the upcoming season, snowmobilers will notice many changes on OFSC prescribed trails. Thanks to funding assistance from the Trail Safety & Sustainability (TSS) Program, a partnership between the OFSC and the Province of Ontario, new groomers, bridges and other trail projects will help snowmobilers get around the OFSC system more easily. Among these trail projects is the most comprehensive signage initiative in the history of the sport, a program so ambitious that will take two years to implement.
This new initiative is a simple, user-friendly approach to trail signage. It continues to recognize that snowmobiling is an off-road activity that occurs in a constantly variable natural setting, one that is totally different from travelling on highly engineered, regularly maintained, public roads. It is based on the fundamental assumption that it may not be practical or possible to maintain all OFSC trails at equal consistency or to remove all hazards. The new approach also recognizes the fact that snowmobile clubs and volunteers are under no legal obligation to place any signs on snowmobile trails, but do so as a courtesy and a convenience, to provide visual assistance for riders who are operating their sleds within the law and with care and control.
So from the outset, snowmobilers must clearly understand that the neither the existing OFSC signage system, nor the new approach currently being implemented, meet or were ever intended to meet, highway signage standards. It follows from this knowledge that snowmobilers cannot expect to operate their sleds on OFSC trails in the same manner and at the same high speeds as they may drive their automobiles. In fact, the legal speed limit for snowmobiles on OFSC trails is 50 kph. and the new signage approach continues to account for this basic law.
The new signage approach continues to reminds riders that snowmobiling is an inherently risky activity that each individual chooses to participate in of their own free will and at their sole risk. It also provides ongoing notice to riders of their personal responsibility to choose to ride an OFSC trail in a safe, prudent and lawful manner. Any signage provided by the OFSC for the convenience of snowmobilers is never a substitute for rider knowledge, choice or vigilance.
The new approach continues to make it clear that reckless riders are not welcome on OFSC trails. This small minority of snowmobilers place themselves and others at great risk by deliberately choosing to ride in a way that is not compatible with responsible snowmobiling in the off-road setting offered by OFSC trails, and supported by either our existing or new signage approach.
This season, snowmobilers will see new STOP and STOP AHEAD signs. But snowmobilers should know that even without a STOP sign in place, the law says that snowmobiles must stop at all roads crossings. Snowmobilers will also see more 50 KM/H MAXIMUM SPEED signs, a reminder that this continues to be the maximum legal speed for which our signs and trails are intended. In addition, more SLOW signs will start appearing to warn riders to back off the throttle due to a condition that exists ahead.
A new USE AT OWN RISK sign will also appear. It is designed to remind snowmobilers that they are personally responsible for preparing for and dealing with the inherent risks involved in snowmobiling in an off-road setting. It also reminds riders that each person is responsible for knowing and obeying the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act, and that emergency and communication facilities may not be available.
As the new approach is implemented, another plus for safe and prudent riders will be the colour theme. The colour Red is intended to identify signs of high significance. Ignoring the message on a red sign could result in personal injury or death, so riders need to immediately slow down or stop. Yellow signs are intended to denote a cautionary warning. Yellow should indicate to the riders to back off the throttle and prepare to brake or to take corrective steering action. The colour white (and all other colours) are intended to convey advisory, destination, trail designation or hospitality information that may not require any action from the rider. The idea is that riders should be able to use the colour of the sign itself as a visual guide, providing a greater opportunity to concentrate on the trail ahead.
Snowmobiling challenges each rider to deal responsibly with the risks associated with moving a very high tech vehicle through a very low tech environment. The new OFSC approach to signage will continue to assist safe and prudent riders in making smart, legal choices and in continuing to take responsibility for their own actions.
Another change for the 2003 season is that in a few areas, trails will be detoured or even closed thanks to off-season trespassing by ATV riders and other local complications. If you are planning a tour, please check OFSC Trail Conditions Reports at www.ofsc.on.ca under Trails/TrailReports or call ahead to ensure that your proposed route is available.
Snowmobilers also need to know that the OFSC and its member clubs have endorsed a resolution from the international snowmobiling community that encourages riders to avoid consuming any alcohol prior to or during a ride. This “Zero Tolerance” for alcohol dovetails with the OFSC’s longstanding “Don’t Drink and Ride” message and speaks directly to each rider making the smart choice when it comes to snowmobiling and alcohol.
Finally, word has come from the OFSC insurer that alcohol cannot be served, sold or available during club poker runs or rallies. As clubs comply with this new protocol, in some cases it may affect the route, check point placement, or even the continuation of a club poker run, so riders need to be aware that this change is due to new insurance requirements.
For safe, prudent and lawful snowmobilers, the 2002/03 snowmobiling season will offer many enjoyable hours of exceptional trail riding. The OFSC, its clubs and their volunteers have gone to great lengths once again to provide a snowmobile trail system that is second to none. With all of the changes noted above, snowmobilers should expect a stepped-up enforcement presence on OFSC trails this winter as both police forces and S.T.O.P. officers do their part to ensure that OFSC trails remain the safest place to ride a snowmobile.


(November 14, 2002)


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IndySKS
 

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Thanks, IndySKS, for keeping us posted on these updates. This is important for all of us Ontario riders to be aware of in order to keep the sport alive.

Jacqui.
 

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Yes, Thanks for keeping us updated.
Around my town, the trails have ever been changed. Alot wider and just so much nicer!

Take it easy!
 

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Thanks for the update IndySKS keep'm coming.

[red]GO HARD, OR GO HOME - THEY MAKE NEW ONES EVERY DAY[/size=2][/red]
 
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