Golf Carts Approved on Roads: This Matters

A small town in Illinois recently passed a law approving golf cart use on their roadways.

Why does this matter to us?

Because it means drivers are forced to deal with more slower moving vehicles on the road which will increase their awareness.

One of the major issues I find with riding a bike on the roads is people aren’t used to looking out for anything but other tin cans going 10+ mph over the speed limit. As more scooters, bicycles and, yes, golf carts enter the roadways, it’s going to force drivers to be more aware and cautious.

While this is just a very small step in a small town in Illinois, it’s setting a precedent for other towns to hopefully follow.

Three cheers for mayor Paul Heideman on taking this big step forward.

Click Here to watch the video on CNN Money.

Story tip via Donna Tocci


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0 thoughts on “Golf Carts Approved on Roads: This Matters”

  1. Quinn says:

    I am all for it! although just like a Vespa, its not my thing, but you are right, it shows people that there are more forms of transportation than people think.

  2. david in fla says:

    Wow. As somebody who’s wrecked a golf cart more than once, and who works in insurance, I’d hate to see the first time an old man doesn’t see the golf cart and rear ends them at 55mph. You won’t see me on one of those, that’s for sure.

  3. DDK says:

    This is why I think all non-interstates should have 25mph speed limits. Slow the local cars down and you can have safe golf carts for local transport, and all but eliminate bicycling and pedestrian deaths. Even better, you could replace most traffic lights with circles, so that the smoother traffic flow balances the lower max speed, keeping total trip time comparable.

    Vote me for president.

  4. MikeOnBike says:

    david in fla Says: “I’d hate to see the first time an old man doesn’t see the golf cart and rear ends them at 55mph.”

    If he misses the golf cart, he might still T-bone a car in an intersection, or hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk, or hit a cyclist, or run off the road and hit a pedestrian on the sidewalk.

    Cheap fuel allowed us to see a single “solution” to road danger: surround ourselves in bigger and bigger vehicles so we can “crash safely”.

    Even then, that’s little help if somebody crashes into the side of your car, or your car flips. Even then, we tolerate about 40,000 motor vehicle deaths per year in the US.

    Expensive fuel lets us rethink this situation. Hopefully we’re seeing a shift toward Not Crashing In The First Place.

  5. I’m all for it. If for any reason I was unable to ride my bicycle it would be nice to know I could still get around without a conventional automobile. I am totally fine with the low speed limit on all non-interstates

  6. Juan says:

    The problem I have with carts and even scooters on the road is that they end up in the bike lanes. I’ve even seen scooters on the bike path going through the park. Where I live, scooters under 50cc’s do not need to be registered or need a special license to drive them on the road. They are not fast enough to drive with traffic, so what happens is there are uneducated people, riding in the lanes with bicycles. We all know that speed limits will never be lowered just so golf carts can keep up with cars, so the only scenario I see is carts being driven where bikes travel. I hope this never goes any further than Illinois.

  7. Jennifer says:

    If I’m not mistaken, these are tiny itty-bitty little middle-of-nowhere rural towns with triple-digit populations and no special bike facilities whatsoever in the first place, so I wouldn’t waste time worrying about it.

    Besides, there are already uneducated people riding in the lanes with bicycles: all those newbies fresh from the shop with their brand-new commuter bikes like they just saw in the news. I nearly got creamed by one of them this very morning; he even turned around and shouted “Sorry, I’m new at this!” I’d have caught up with him and offered some assistance, but I was walking today.

    (Dang, sometimes we ARE pretty arrogant: First there aren’t enough people out on bikes, and then there are too many people out on bikes? Is that a double standard or what?)

    Anyway, I think the real problem is that the overwhelming majority of people only learn the rules of the road through driver’s ed, in which you spend some number of weeks learning to drive a car and getting lectured at about the perils of drunk driving, and maybe you’re also nagged about sharing the road with motorcycles if your instructor is so inclined. And that’s pretty much it. But as long as you have a certificate from the DMV proving that you’re educated, then why would you ever suppose that you’re really not?

  8. Adriel says:

    I like this, I would like to see cars like the zap made street legal.

    We have the ability right now to put cheap electric cars on the roadway, and the only thing in our way are a network of roads with traffic slow enough to accommodate them. Guess who else would benefit from this? Bicycles.

    If I expect cars to share the road with me, how big of a hypocrite would I have to be to say I cannot share the road with a golf cart?

    This would surprise most motorists, but you are SUPPOSED to drive in such a way that you can come to a complete stop for your visibility at all times. This is called a safe and reasonable speed, and once upon a time in America not all roads had speed limits. The speed limits were meant to put a cap on your speed, and now motorists everywhere have confused it with the “minimum speed”

    Getting used to slower traffic is the only thing that will slow people down. (And being arrested and jailed if they kill or injure people because their speed was not safe or reasonable).

  9. Ringer says:

    Oh, the laziness of American society. Yeah, it’s great that towns are welcoming slower vehicles, but, c’mon. Get off your golf carts and Segways and SUVs and walk or bike. Kind of makes me think of those hover chairs in Wall-E…

  10. Adriel says:

    I love that movie. Especially when the fat lump of human has all of his electronics switched off and suddenly realizes there is a world outside.

    Ringer: it has to start somewhere, and the roads need to be safer. The safer the roads the more people that will feel safe walking or biking, and the more people will do it.

    Not everyone will, but if we could just get the number to 25% we would be in an entirely different society. Right now the number is about 1% I believe.

  11. Seamus says:

    Maybe I’m showing
    my rural background
    but I guess the majority
    of this lists subscribers
    aren’t familiar with
    the Amish or tractors.

    I have yet to have
    any issues or confrontations
    thank goodness
    but anyone who complains
    about me going slowly
    had better have a good reason
    why I am somehow different
    and not tolerable while
    tractors, combines and
    buggies somehow are.

  12. Ed W says:

    Several Oklahoma municipalities permit golf carts on roads with speed limits of 25mph or less. Tulsa is considering it. The main problem is that the arterial streets – where all the businesses are located – have 35mph speed limits. I’d like to see a 25 mph limit city-wide, but that’s not likely.

    Also, the state will permit mini-trucks on the road starting in November. These are 500-600cc engines with various types of bodies. I expect they’ll be popular as city vehicles, though they’re not fast enough for limited access roads. I think they top out at about 50mph.

    Finally, like everyone else, I’m seeing more scooters. Unfortunately, we have scooter/pedestrians who ride against traffic or up on the sidewalk. My wife saw one guy ride on the shoulder of a limited access road against traffic, exit the wrong way down a ramp, and then up onto a sidewalk, blithely ignoring the cars dodging around him. Now I ask you – big brass ones or little tiny brain?

  13. ric says:

    I’ll take a “wait and see” attitude on this golf cart thing. I can’t say I’d want them in the bike lanes.

  14. Dave says:

    There was a study I heard recently. Back in the 70’s, bicycle deaths dropped while the number of people riding bikes went up. After that fuel crisis, the number of riders went back down and the number of cycle deaths increased. The assumption was: there were more cyclists out there and drivers were more aware of their presence. don’t ask me the source – probably the spokesman podcast.

  15. Fritz says:

    Ashkum, IL is less than a square mile. Everything is walking distance. I lived for several years in a similar small village in dowstate Illinois, and it’s not at all unusual for the resident to putter around town in golf carts and lawn tractors. In Ashkum’s case, they’re probably just formalizing what’s already common practice.

    The law might be superfluous anyways — most states already allow NEVs (like the modified golf carts in the video) on city streets with speed limit less than 35 mph.

    Dave, the study of cycling deaths was related to a helmet study in Australia. After the introduction of a mandatory helmet law Down Under, fewer peopele rode bikes but more cyclists died.

    See http://www.cycle-helmets.com/hpja_2005_1_robinson.pdf

  16. Rule413 says:

    Are you serious, 40,000 Motor Vehicle Deaths Per Year In The United States??? Are you freakin kidding me? That blew my mind! Soooo lets see, 40,000/50states,800 a state, 800/12months,12 deaths per month, 12/4weeks, 4 deaths per week??? This Is Totally Unexceptable! Guess that’s how the goverment “trims the herd”??? This Needs To Be Addressed…

  17. Blue says:

    Re: “11. Seamus”

    I love this point! Perhaps there are several reasons that you don’t hear people complain about having to go around tractors

    The top three guesses:

    3. There aren’t as many tractors in city situations? (No tractors on the roads I commute on)

    2. Tractors are bigger than most cars (Don’t mess with big Tex)

    1. Drivers SEE the tractors !

  18. Adriel says:

    “Are you serious, 40,000 Motor Vehicle Deaths Per Year In The United States???”

    Its 43,000 and I do not know if you are surprised by this or being sarcastic. It comes to about 119 per day.

    also 2.5 or 2.6 Million injuries per year which works to about 6,800 people every day injured in traffic.

    According to incident reports, about 90% of collisions are preventable, which means that if we could somehow remove licenses from bad drivers, and insist that all motorists drove safely or stayed off the road, we should be able to reduce the fatality rate to 4300 people a year or 12 people a day. i.e. over 100 people every day this year are going to die because we do not have a hard enough stance on unsafe operation of a motor vehicle.

    We need to lobby that anyone drunk or sober, that has a proven track record of causing collisions, needs to lose the privilege of driving. Perhaps they can have a second chance, after a year of suspension and several safety classes. But I am not sure a third chance is acceptable.

    Another benefit to those that remain on the roadway. Insurance would get much much cheaper.

  19. Jennifer says:

    But too many people with suspended or revoked licenses just keep driving anyway, and don’t get caught at it until they kill somebody else.

    In addition to stronger laws, stiffer penalties, and better enforcement, we somehow need to make driving like an irresponsible jerkwad just as culturally taboo as… I don’t know, something wantonly cruel like flinging puppies against a wall. Otherwise the laws are worth diddly squat to the drivers breaking them with hardly a conscious thought.

  20. Adriel says:

    They are trying to do this in the UK, through advertising.

    I like the ads.

    I posted all the ones I have found on youtube here: Please contact me if you know of any more.

    http://austincyclingnews.com/?p=210
    http://austincyclingnews.com/?p=146
    http://austincyclingnews.com/?p=147

    we need stuff like that in the US.

    And police catch unlicensed drivers all the time, but they LET THEM GO.

    Like the woman who ran over a child in the crosswalk in San Jose.

    http://www.cyclelicio.us/2008/06/breanna-slaughter-eck.html

    Not even a ticket.

    I keep hearing the same sad tune about a lack of officers to enforce it. You know what? I would be GLAD to donate a Sunday and drive around the city with someone videotaping traffic violations and getting license plates (lets start with tailgating, that is so blatantly illegal it gives me the shivers just thinking about it). But in the current environment, the police would not do ANYTHING with the evidence. And I know others that would be glad to do the same as well.

    Now I’m not saying I want a police state where people can just be locked up without evidence, but if 50 people call in your license plate and say you drive like an idiot, they should at least look you up and check it out. Especially if one of those people has video.

    And if you are caught driving without a license? You lose the car. Period. The public owns it now. If they can do it for a guy transporting marijuana, they can sure as hell do it for a guy driving around with a suspended license.

    Oh it wasn’t your car? The car owner has to pay a hefty fine for knowingly allowing the guy to drive his car, or he can file that the car was stolen. In which case Mr. Unlicensed just got upgraded to Mr. Grand Theft Auto.

    The reason the climate is the way it is today is because law enforcement do not take these things seriously enough, and also because the public does not take it seriously enough.

    And if a bunch of people lose their licenses? You can bet alternate transportation will start to look REAL attractive. Busses, walking, cycling.

    Cycling is the best idea.

    I used to be a really bad driver until I rode a bike, and once I started riding in traffic my whole perception on safe driving changed. I now want every person in every car to pay attention. And even that had nothing like the effect of allowing my 8 year old daughter to come with me. I do not want her killed in traffic, but she is not getting a car unless she buys it with her own money. So my choices ? Keep her locked up in a world of obesity and video games, or try to make the roads a safer place.

    I choose choice B.

  21. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    Thank for the links Adriel. I wish like hell these were played on TV here in the US.

    If golf carts are legalized across the US it won’t be good. With golf carts being bigger and harder for fast, no, speeding cars and suvs to dodge the death toll in the US may go over 100,000 a year.

    I have seen cars that ran under school busses, utility trucks with signs, flagmen and flashing light get rear ended. Heck, I have seen houses with suvs drove into them. Only my bike being small and having the ability of great awareness has allowed me to move out of danger many times.

  22. Adriel says:

    well, if drivers change their habits we all win. We need to do something to make it happen.

  23. Blue says:

    Those video clips are really horrifying.

  24. Adriel says:

    The consequences of driving like an idiot are really horrifying.

    I would rather a motorist be exposed to it in a video than with me plastered all over his grill. (Or in his windshield).

  25. Your safety is everybody's business says:

    Approximately 50% of a motor vehicle deaths are due to head injuries. I think if we made everyone in a motor vehicle and pedestrians who walk along streets/roads wear a helmet, we could significantly reduce the number of traffic fatalities.

  26. Adriel says:

    Can you provide sources for this information?

    I would like to post it somewhere if you can prove it.

  27. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    About those motorist videos…
    1km/h is .7mph
    average person walks 4.2km/h or 3mph
    I think most people can sprint 15km/h

  28. Efried says:

    Well, battery electric vehicles either 25 km/h or 45 km/h licensed are regular here in Europe. insurances however and SUV drivers from the hinterland are chasing them – because once upon a time those vehicles were popular amongst drinkers. This has been avoided by introducing tests but the wrong allegations remain.
    In cities with mostly 30 km/h limits those vehicles should not be aliens but the norm.

  29. @Rule413:
    “Are you serious, 40,000 Motor Vehicle Deaths Per Year In The United States?”

    As Adriel has pointed out, it usually hovers somewhere between 40,000 and 43,000 traffic fatalities per year and as many as 3.1 million injuries (2005, I think that was.) Around 800 of those are cyclists. Check out this page for a handy breakdown.

    Kinda makes a person wonder how this is not viewed as some sort of public health crisis, doesn’t it?

  30. Fritz says:

    Dear Adriel and “Your Safety,”

    I couldn’t find stats showing the how many motor vehicle deaths are from brain injury, but working backwards from:

    * 57% of head injury deaths are from motor vehicle crashes.
    * There are about 32,000 head injury deaths per year in the United States.
    * .57 * 32,000 = (about) 18,000

    18,000 is 42% of 43,000. Not quite 50%, but it’s fairly close.

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