Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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June 16, 2013

Bluefield, Va., Town Council mulls restrictions for driving golf carts on roads

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Town officials are considering restricting when, where and how residents can operate golf carts on local streets.

Though it is presently illegal to drive carts on Bluefield, Va., streets, Town Manager Mike Watson said residents are still driving golf carts in neighborhoods and even major roads. Watson said the town council has been discussing the idea of passing an ordinance restricting the use of carts on roadways as a matter of public safety.

“At this time, you are not supposed to have golf carts on any road in the town,” Watson said. “We don’t have a lot of people riding them, but people do ride them throughout neighborhoods in the area. We want to restrict this to make it safer. We know there have been people riding these carts on the street, but we haven’t received any major complaints about it. We are trying to be proactive before something bad does happen.”

For now, no measure has been passed but Watson said the town council is looking into what provisions should be included in an ordinance restricting golf cart usage.

“People will only be able to operate on certain roads,” Watson said. “We are looking into limiting the speed of these carts to 25 miles per hour. We are also looking at putting up signage at the entrances to some neighborhoods so motorists will be aware they could come across carts.”

During a recent meeting, the town council discussed what should be included in the draft of any new ordinance restricting the use of golf carts on town streets. After consulting with the Bluefield, Va., Planning Commission, Town Attorney Steve Arey presented the council with a list of roads where golf cart usage should be prohibited, including U.S. Route 19/460. Arey said the council could add their own suggestions to the list of roads where golf carts should not be driven.

 Arey said other suggestions from the town’s planning committee included requiring all people driving golf carts on town streets to have a valid driver’s license and any cart driven on town streets should be insured for at least $2,500. Drivers would have to present their driver’s license and proof the cart was insured if pulled over by police, Arey said. Drivers would only be permitted to use carts on public roads between dawn and dusk, Arey said.

Additionally, the proposal states the cart can only be driven on certain roads or between a person’s personal property and a golf course. Arey said the planning commission also suggested carts be registered with the town in order to legally operate on these streets. Arey said signage indicating a neighborhood is “golf cart friendly” was also suggested with the entrances to neighborhoods including Sedgewood, Brierwood and Fincastle Estates as proposed locations for the signs.

Councilman Donnie Linkous said residents driving golf carts on major thoroughfares is becoming an issue throughout the town.

“We have 8-year-olds who have been driving golf carts on the roadways for three years,” Linkous said. “We need this ordinance to have some teeth so our police can enforce this rule.”

Mayor Don Harris said citizens should be allowed to give input before any ordinance was passed restricting golf cart usage.

“We need to let our citizens know about this proposal and get their input,” Harris said. “If they are interested, I am sure they will be willing to give us their opinions, whether they are for or against something like this.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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