I have joined a small but growing group downtown.
My wife and I recently purchased a golf cart to get around. We certainly are not the first to do so. Several of our friends have had them for months. By my count, there are are about a dozen people who live and work downtown who use golf carts to putt around.
Before you call the cops on me, let me assure you they are street legal. And, after having one for a couple of weeks, I have found they are extremely practical.
This week, I have cranked my truck twice, both for work assignments that took me out of downtown.
When you live, work, play and pray in a small geographic area, the golf cart makes sense. And in April 2015, Columbus Council approved an ordinance that makes it legal to drive “Personal Transportation Vehicles” on certain downtown streets.
There are 14 streets specifically mentioned in the ordinance. All of those streets are located in the Historic District and the Central Business District. You can’t cross Veterans Parkway to the east and, for the most part, you are free to go from Fourth Street to 14th Street. I am pretty sure you don’t want to drive it into Alabama.
Golf carts — I certainly prefer that to “Personal Transportation Vehicle” — are subject to the same rules of the road and penalties as any other vehicle. You must have a valid driver’s license to operate it. You can’t operate at a speed greater than 20 miles per hour — and I can assure you that is not an issue for our golf cart.
The ordinance reads that “Personal Transportation Vehicles” must be parked in designated parking spaces. So if you see a golf cart taking up a city parking space, don’t get upset with the driver. That is what the city law mandates.
The most interesting part of the city law, as I did my research, is that you must register your “Personal Transportation Vehicle” with the city Finance Department. For $15, you get a five-year permit.
You must carry insurance on the golf cart, just as you would your car or truck. And you have to provide proof of that insurance when you apply for the permit.
When I registered last week, I was only the third person to do so this year.
But that could be deceptive, because others would have been registered in 2015 and 2016. Those permits are still valid.
Our golf cart has head lights and tail lights, blinkers, seat belts and rear view mirrors. In other words, it is street legal. And it is not like you can treat it like a clown car and pile people into it. There are two bench seats in the vehicle and you can’t put more than two adults on each seat.
As you can tell, I am now a proponent of this means of transportation. It works for me. But one of the reasons I am sharing is it would make sense to expand the places that a golf car could be used.
I am sure people who live around Lakebottom Park would use the vehicles to get to and from the park and other places in Midtown. As those who are planning the walking and biking connectors between Midtown and downtown, it would make sense to factor golf carts and other electric vehicles into the mix.
It is not for everyone, but it does provide an easy and efficient way to motor around confined areas.