City considers golf cart legislation

By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

Golf carts were made for the golf course, but it is not uncommon to see them zipping down residential or even primary roads. The city of Grove City is considering legislation to regulate golf carts and similar low-speed vehicles on city streets.

The issue was debated at the Oct. 7 Grove City Council meeting.

“We have seen more and more golf carts on public streets and on public bike paths,” said Grove City Law Director Stephen Smith. “They are illegal at this point in time.”

The city’s administration, including the safety director and the chief of police, came up with legislation to regulate low speed vehicles.

According to Smith, people are not just using the carts to drive to a neighbor’s house down the street, they are using them to drive to local parks and to the store.

“The reality is, they are out there, and we want to ensure they are safe for the occupant as well as the general public,” said Smith.

Under the proposed ordinance, the city would strictly prohibit the low-speed vehicles from main thoroughfares in Grove City, such as Broadway, Stringtown Road and London-Groveport Road. The legislation also requires that the golf cart operator have a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance. If a golf cart driver wanted to take the vehicle on a street with a 35 mile per hour speed limit, that cart would have to be inspected by the Grove City Division of Police or another law enforcement agency. The cart would have to be equipped with safety features such as properly working brake lights, head lights, taillights and turn signals. The cart would also need a windshield, a review mirror, seatbelts and a front and rear license plate.

Smith said most of the golf carts citizens may see on the roads today do not meet these safety standards.

“About 98 percent of the golf carts you see on the roadway are not supposed to be there,” said the law director.

While most council members agree there should be some regulation on golf carts, some were concerned about the legislation presented.

“This is overkill,” said councilman Jeff Davis.

Davis said he does not agree with all the regulations proposed, but said the carts are just not meant for primary roads. He suggested simplifying the legislation to say no golf carts are allowed on any street with a speed limit more than 25 miles per hour.

“Why don’t we limit them to subdivisions,” asked Davis.

Smith argued that citizens are allowed to ride bicycles on roadways that have speed limits at or above 35 miles per hour and said if someone can ride on a bike on the road, perhaps they should be able to drive a cart on the road as well. He also said people want to use the carts to run to the store, which usually would require travel on a road that goes up to 35 miles per hour.

Davis reasoned that bicycle riders do not slow down traffic.

“You can just drive around a bike rider,” said the councilman. “Golf carts disrupt traffic. They do not go 35 miles per hour.”

Councilman Roby Schottke said he is concerned about how this proposed legislation would impact the Pinnacle area.

“The Pinnacle is a golf course community,” said Schottke. “You see residents on carts over there all the time, but they are probably driving them over to the golf course. I am a little conflicted about this.”

Schottke suggested postponing the legislation to give council and the city’s administration more time to work out the kinks in the regulations. He also suggested including two-wheeled motorized scooters in the legislation.

Council agreed to table the vote to the Oct. 21 council meeting.

Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said he would like council to act on the legislation.

“We owe golf cart owners some direction,” said Stage. “We have an obligation to put them on notice.”

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