Comment on ATV Riding: It's Bad on so Many Levels
Recreational ATVs are horrid. I am an ER doc near Pismo Beach, CA, where thousands of campers and ATV riders flock every weekend, spewing fumes, tearing up the beach and dunes, and getting injured regularly, sometimes severely or fatally. We have people killed every year, a 4 year old was run over just last month, a 21 year old girl is now a permanent quadriplegic, plus hundreds of broken bones and lacerations per season. Many ATVers also put their small children on these motorized deathtraps and have them ride around in the midst of thousands of other high-speed motorists, some of whom are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
What ever happened to human-powered recreation? It's much more rewarding when you hike or ride your bike to the top of a mountain, rather than being artificially propelled while wasting fossil fuel, polluting, and ripping up the landscape. Along similar lines, sometimes when we go surfing along the coast, jetskiiers will obliviously and obnoxiously choke us with their exhaust in their quest for speed and bigger air over the waves. The dolphins that often play in those waves are nowhere to be seen on these days, driven off by the noise, fumes, and oil slicks floating on the water. Human-powered recreation is healthier, less dangerous, and has much less environmental impact than the motorized equivalent. To make matters worse, the average person that uses these vehicles has little to no regard for the environment in the first place, driving jacked-up trucks and towing huge "toy-haulers" for hundreds of miles so that they can "camp" in RVs and use tons of pre-packaged food and disposable utensils (leaving a great deal behind on the beach). The same people that will argue that it has minimal impact and is safe, are the same people that think it is a good idea to drive a Hummer around town, or go to the grocery store in an Escalade.
And yes, I know that hikers, climbers, and mountain bikers effect the local environment as well, but as with everything else, there is a continuum of effect with responsible hikers and bikers being relatively low on the scale, and ATV and motorcycle riders causing much more impact.
If I was looking for a way to waste fuel, destroy wildlife habitat, get minimal actual exercise while exposing myself and my family to as dangerous a situation as possible, all under the pretense of "being outdoors", it sounds like the perfect family vacation.