A call from a member of the public alerts staff to an incident on the far side of the park and within minutes a ranger is racing across the ground on a quad bike.
Meanwhile, a utility vehicle is assisting in the top-dressing of greens on the nearby golf course.
On the sports field, another is in the process of marking 15 pitches. And down the road, an ATV is pavement spraying. The versatility of ATVs and utility vehicles is tremendous and the range available means models can be found for most sites and tasks.
But which machine is best for you? There are two things to consider: the site where the vehicle will be used and the work it will be expected to do.
Most ATVs and utility vehicles will be required for duties within a specific location. Clearly a powerful model with four-wheel-drive will suit sites with steep hills or boggy ground. A two-wheel-drive vehicle is often satisfactory on sites such as sports complexes, where the ground is largely flat and has hard surfaces routed through it.
It is important to consider access through gateways, under arches and across bridges. Site sensitivity is also key: sites such as golf courses and gardens open to the public will have issues with noise and emissions. Loud, polluting vehicles should be avoided, especially if golfers are putting or garden visitors wish to enjoy birdsong and smell the flowers. In such instances, the solution may be battery power, but only if a model can be found to suit the terrain and satisfy safety factors.
The vehicle’s specification must also match the tasks it will perform. Speed is key if the quad bike or utility vehicle is to be used as a first-response vehicle.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a way to transport staff to the farthest reaches of the estate, you will require a vehicle that has two or more seats and a cargo box at the rear. Some models can even be adapted to carry six, eight or more people. These also make ideal transport for tourism projects and as hospitality vehicles.
The flatbed of larger utility vehicles enables the transport of tools and materials. Some utilities will have tipping beds, which are useful for shifting materials such as sand and woodchips. Some may have optional cages to increase volume for carrying leaves or to help with the clear-up process after events such as outdoor concerts.
Load-carrying and towing capacities should be double-checked where the machine is intended for transporting heavy materials or is expected to assist in logging or towing equipment. Material carriers should have cargo-bed liners and be anti-corrosive where wet materials are to be transported.
A wide range of trailed equipment — mowers, fertiliser and salt spreaders, top-dressers, brushes and more — is available to extend the use of ATVs and utility vehicles. A few utility vehicles are also fitted with PTO.
Other options for vehicles should also be investigated. Items such as headlights, beacons and all-weather cabs may be standard or extras. You should also consider what sort of tyres would be most appropriate to your needs.
Finally, the importance of the safe use of quad bikes and utility vehicles should not be underestimated, especially when used in difficult terrain. These vehicles should always be used in the correct way and by competent drivers.
Always respect the limitations of the machine and the conditions at the time of using it. Consider using beacons where the public is on site and always wear a motorcycle helmet when driving a quad bike.