MORE GOLF CARTS LEAVING GREENS
When Richard Fisher wants to meet friends for a cup of coffee, go to the grocery store or watch his grandkids play ball, he hops in his golf cart and zips off along the streets of Summitville, Ind. The Central Indiana community of 1,100 is one of a growing number across the USA that have begun allowing golf carts on its streets in the past year.
"I'm saving money and wear and tear on my car," said Fisher, 82, whose cart is tricked out with seat belts, a boom-box, flashing hazard light and wheel-rim spinners. A USA TODAY review found that in the past year, as gas prices surged past $4 a gallon, dozens of communities, — including Danforth, Ill.; Pulaski, Va.; Conover, N.C.; Osseo, Minn.; and Loveland, Colo. — have passed or debated ordinances to allow golf carts on local streets.
Bloomfield, Ind., decided to continue its golf cart ban in June, said Town Clerk Sondra Thompson. Last August, Salina, Kan., voted to ban golf carts from local streets, citing safety concerns, according to Nick Hernandez, the city's management assistant. Last July, the Collier County (Fla.) Commission turned down a request to make carts legal on the streets of the Isles of Capri, according to Kirk Colvin, president of the Isles of Capri Civic Association.
Jim Philipps, spokesman for the National Association of Counties, said some county and municipal agencies, including law enforcement, parks and utility departments, are also looking to the vehicles as a cost-effective alternative. "I think the question has been: How high does the price of gas have to get before people start to change their behaviors?" Philipps said. "The answer seems to be $4 a gallon."
The Fairlleld County (Ohio) Sheriff's Office is using two golf carts to conduct patrols in some of the county's villages, where there is not a lot of geographic area to cover, added Sheriff Dave Phalen. Officials are struggling to balance legal and safety concerns with the desires of those who want to use golf carts to get around town.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not recognize golf carts as on-road vehicles, so they don't have to meet the same federal safety automobiles, said McGwin, who stressed the need for safety to be addressed in local ordinances. "Once in a setting they aren't designed for — or where they come in contact with other vehicles — the potential tor serious injuries really increases," McGwin said.
Others who have viewed this page also viewed these pages:
Reprinted from www.usatoday.com, July 20, 2008