Valpo committee rejects letting golf carts on roads

2013-02-12T16:00:00Z Valpo committee rejects letting golf carts on roadsPhil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com
February 12, 2013 4:00 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | Don't look for golf carts to be allowed on Valparaiso city streets any time soon.

Resident Arthur Bartholomew said at Tuesday's traffic and safety committee meeting he was prepared to give up his car if the city would legalize the carts.

"Other cities are doing this, and they haven't had any problems," Bartholomew said. "The carts should have lights, even flashing lights. They are no more dangerous than bicycles, mopeds or the battery-operated toy vehicles I see."

Cart drivers should have a valid drivers license and insurance to drive them, he said. He cited Chesterton, DeMotte and Hebron as local communities that allow carts on local streets. It is against state law to drive them on state highways except to cross them.

City Engineering Director Tim Burkman said he looked into the laws and found a wide variety of restrictions on their use. He said one of the biggest problems the committee is asked to address is speeding, and golf carts would further complicate that problem.

"It is a bit different than riding a bike," Burkman said. "People are used to having cyclists on the road, and they don't take up the width of a cart. People coming up over a hill at high speed won't see the cart."

The width of the cart would force drivers to swerve into the opposite lane, Burkmans said.

Police Capt. Mike DeHaven said the police department is "dead set" against legalizing golf carts on city streets because of the greater risk of serious injury in a crash.

"It's been my experience allowing carts is almost encouraging people to drink," DeHaven said. "They were designed to be driven on a golf course, and it's the police department's stand they should not be allowed on city streets."

Bartholomew said golf carts cross Country Club Road at four locations at the golf course, and, with lights, they would be visible to drivers.

Public Works Director Matt Evans said he liked the idea of using carts because they are more environmentally friendly, but the city needs to approach the idea cautiously.

For now, the committee decided carts will remain for golf course use only.

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