By Rick Palsgrove
There’s more than one way to get around town and golf carts are becoming an increased presence on Groveport’s streets.
“There’s a lot of interest about using golf cars on streets to travel to places in the city,” said Groveport City Council President Shawn Cleary. “I’m getting a lot of questions from residents about golf carts. It’s snowballing.”
“I’d like people to have the opportunity to legally get where they want to go anywhere within the city,” added Groveport City Councilman Scott Lockett. “Right now, because of how our city borders are configured, not everyone in our various neighborhoods can legally get everywhere in the city by golf cart. Plus, not everyone is able to get on a bicycle or walk. It would be nice if they could just get in a golf cart and be able to get around the city and enjoy the community.”
Groveport Police Chief Ralph Portier said for golf carts to be used legally on the streets they must be licensed and equipped as motor vehicles.
“The must follow the same rules of the road as cars,” said Portier.
Lockett thinks city officials should consider local legislation that would enable residents to use golf carts on city controlled paths and city parks so they could reach places like the recreation center, The Links at Groveport golf course, and other places of interest in the city. He cited the unimproved path in the city’s Blacklick Park that goes all the way to Rager Road, the Foor Leisure Path that extends from Ebright Road to Bixby Road, and access to the golf course from Heritage Park as examples of areas where the city could consider allowing the use of golf carts.
“As I interpret the state code, we could consider enacting legislation to grant access to slow speed vehicles as they are clearly defined in the Ohio Revised Code,” said Lockett. “It would be limited to city of Groveport paths. It would not include area Metro Parks’ paths because the city has no control over those. We would also have to include legislative language about speed limits, right-of-way rules, and so forth on the paths.”
When asked how many golf carts are currently licensed as motor vehicles in Groveport, Portier said, “I am reaching out to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to get the actual number of licensed slow speed vehicles that are registered as motor vehicles in Groveport. (Groveport Police) Sgt. Casey Adams believes there are at least 12 to 15.”
Portier said, because the golf carts are licensed and considered a motor vehicle, they cannot legally be driven on bike paths, sidewalks, or through yards, and so on.
“It is considered a motor vehicle just the same as a car or truck,” said Portier.
The golf carts may only be driven on streets with a speed limit of 35 mph and less. Portier most of these carts have speed limiters, but they may not exceed 45 mph.
Portier noted the use of golf carts as a street vehicle is rising.
“Small communities have seen a slight growth in use of this type of vehicle, as a matter of convenience, fun and also economy,” said Portier.
To have a golf cart (also known as an under speed or slow speed vehicle) registered and inspected as a motor vehicle for street use, Portier said you must go to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department to ensure that you meet the requirements in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code.
“We (Groveport Police) do not inspect or approve,” said Portier.
According to the Franklin County pamphlet, “What do I need to do to obtain an inspection and license plates for my Under Speed Vehicle?” you must obtain license plates for the golf cart and have valid insurance before driving on the streets.
According to the county pamphlet, for street use, a golf cart must be equipped with: two headlights, visible from 100 feet or further; one tail light, visible from 50 feet; two working brake lights; a horn, audible from 200 feet or further; seat belts for driver and passenger; directional signals, front and rear; windshield made of safety glass including a wiper to maintain an unobstructed view for the driver; unobstructed rear view mirror; working exhaust system; brakes with sufficient stopping power within 40 feet at a speed of 20 mph; two license plate brackets, front and rear; ability to illuminate rear license plate at 500 feet; only drivers with a valid driver’s license may drive the vehicle; and proof of insurance is required.
When asked what kinds of safety issues there are with golf carts being used as motor vehicles, Portier said, “Many do not drive them like a car but rather a golf cart. They can topple and, if struck by another car, serious injuries, if not a fatality, is likely.”
Portier said Groveport does not have any local laws regarding golf carts on streets.
“The laws are set by the state and can be found in the Ohio Revised Code,” said Portier.
For more information on the laws regarding the use of golf carts on streets, look up the Ohio Revised Code under 4511.214 – Operation of low-speed, under-speed, or utility vehicle, or a mini-truck.