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Should golf carts be on streets?

By Staff | Apr 10, 2016

I guess I don’t know for sure how I feel about the issue of golf carts being used on city streets.

On the one hand, there are many places where it is a common practice. On the other hand, there is certainly a safety concern.

In areas where baby-booming senior citizens cluster together for warmth in the winter, like in Florida and Arizona, golf carts are used more than cars. They are sometimes the main mode of transportation.

Even folks who don’t golf have one parked in the driveway and use it to get all around the senior living complex and even out around the town.

That seems like a good idea.

But there are many small towns in Minnesota that have wrestled with this issue in the past years. Do they allow them on city streets, or restrict them? Good question.

The small town of Hendricks, Minnesota, population 750, has embraced their use. It is not uncommon during the summer to see just as many golf carts parked downtown as cars.

There are a couple of reasons for that. Yes, there is a golf course there and a large number of residents do golf and many of them own a cart.

The other reason is that on the edge of town is a golf cart dealership and it distributes carts to golf courses around the area. NB Golf Carts has hundreds of carts, new and old, lined up in their lot and nearby field.

It is pretty easy to buy a golf cart in Hendricks. I’ve done it.

Other towns restrict golf cart usage. Some only allow them to be driven to and from the resident’s home to the local golf course. Other towns have certain paths or lanes where they can be driven.

In Blue Earth, the city requires carts to get a permit at a cost of $25. And the city has restricted what streets the carts can be used on. Main, Seventh, 14th and Fairgrounds Road among others are restricted. And obviously, carts should not be used on state highways such as Highway 169.

These restrictions make it a little more difficult for someone to drive a cart to where they want to go, like Walmart, for instance.

And in Blue Earth, carts are not allowed downtown, on Main Street anyway. I guess they can still get to places like Juba’s and the library and senior center by way of the side streets.

Another issue is the cart itself. Does it need to have lights, a slow moving vehicle sign, rear-view mirror, etc.? And should it be driven in accordance with the rules of the road, just like a car? Does it need to be insured?

The city’s ordinance, which governs the use of snowmobiles, ATVs and golf carts usage on city streets, covers all of those rules and regulations and more. One reason the city wants to have cart owners get a permit is so they can be educated as to what the rules and regulations are.

Another issue is the cart driver.

Councilman Dan Brod had a point. While the golf cart permit requires the applicant to furnish a driver’s license (or the reason why they don’t have one), the permit is actually for the cart, not the driver.

Once the cart is permitted, can’t anyone jump on it and drive it around town? Couldn’t that be someone who is too old to get a driver’s license, or too young? Or who isn’t physically able to operate a motor vehicle but is able to drive a golf cart around?

One town had the problem of a person who was listed as ‘legally blind’ but not totally blind driving her golf cart around town to get to places like the post office and grocery store. Should that be allowed?

These are all good questions.

But, the truth of the matter is, is there really an issue here? To be honest, I can recall seeing one, maybe two golf carts being driven around on the streets of Blue Earth. And they didn’t seem to be in anyone’s way.

Maybe some day more of them will be used, but right now, it does not seem like that big of a deal.

What do you think? Should golf carts be allowed on city streets? And should there be rules to govern that usage?

Take our online poll at www.faribaultcountyregister.com and let us know how you feel about it. Then you can check the results on this page next week, or anytime on our website.