Golf cart ordinance under review

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PENDLETON — Tim Thompson of Pendleton said he and his wife, Amy — along with their dog, Buster — love to motor around Pendleton together.

And when they do so, it’s usually in a vehicle that allows them to explore more of the town, see more friends and give Buster more fresh air than would normally occur in an automobile.

“When the weather’s nice, we use the golf cart just about every day just to go downtown,” Thompson said. “You see stuff that you normally don’t see when you’re in a car, you know. Or walking, we typically stay on the main streets — with the golf cart, we go everywhere, up and down the alleys and everything.”

Pendleton Town Council is working on a new ordinance for golf carts and other non- tradition vehicles — such as ATVs, UTVs, Razors and side-by-sides — in an effort to modify, clarify and unify existing regulations. It might also allow the Thompsons to drive their golf cart on a couple of more roads, ones currently prohibited.

Town attorney Jeff Graham said the new ordinance, if passed, would bring together seven sections of two previous ordinances along with two state statutes, so that everyone can easily know their rights and responsibilities.

“You try to say here’s the law … and here’s the penalty,” Graham said, noting generally that if rules aren’t clear people often end up breaking the law unwittingly.

Currently, golf carts are legal to drive on most Pendleton streets so long as owners obtain a $50 annual permit — issued by the Pendleton Police Department after it inspects the cart — and meet other requirements. These include a golf cart owner maintaining insurance on the vehicle and vehicle users having a valid driver’s license.

In addition to consolidating regulations, town council President Chet Babb said permitted non-tradition vehicles will be allowed to use State Street and Pendleton Avenue, two routes vehicles currently are allowed to travel across but not allowed to travel on.

“That’s the big thing,” Babb said.

Pendleton Police Chief Marc Farrer, who is helping craft the ordinance, said the intent of the new ordinance is to be less restrictive — to open up all local streets and to allow a growing range of vehicles.

But one restriction might be tigthened, he said.

In addition to golf cart drivers needing to be licensed there might be a minimum age of 18.

“I think that’s a change that’s going into it,” he said, acknowledging that it’s a move that might not be popular with everyone.

“The thinking is they (drivers younger than 18) need a little more road time before being released in a golf cart onto the roadways.”

Farrer said the town has been licensings golf carts since 2007. So far this year, 32 golf carts are registered, which Farrer said is one of the higher years.

Without records at hand, Farrer said “It’s probably safe to say that the numbers continue to grow each year.”

The golf cart ordinance in on the agenda for the meeting set for 6 p.m. today, Thursday, July 9, at town hall.

Graham said the town is looking for input from people who have any thought or concerns.

Thompson said he thinks allowing people to use a wider range of vehicles on the streets seems like a good idea.

“Yeah, I think it’d be great. It makes it a friendlier small town,” Thompson said. “And I think, if it can be done safely and people stick to the rules they come up with, then I think it’s all a good thing.”

He said he knows he speaks for at least one other member of his household.

“Our dog is addicted to golf cart rides, so let’s be honest about it,” he said.

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The following rules and regulations are from a draft  of a new golf cart ordinance under consideration by the Pendleton Town Council. The council, which was set to discuss the ordinance at its 6 p.m. meeting today, Thursday, July 9, at town hall, is seeking input from residents.

**DRAFT**RULES AND REGULATIONS: The operator of a Golf Cart shall adhere to and follow all traffic rules and regulations as set forth in the Indiana Code, and, in addition thereto, the following:

a. The operator of the golf cart shall drive the golf cart as close to the curb/edge of the street/road when possible and must yield to other vehicles on the road;

b. Golf carts shall not be operated on sidewalks;

c. Golf carts must have seat belts for each passenger, and each passenger in or on the golf cart shall have said seatbelts securely fastened around them;

d. Golf carts must have lighted headlights and lighted taillights on at all times, and a golf cart cannot be operated in Pendleton unless there are at least (2) lighted headlights and two (2) lighted taillights;

e. Golf carts must have turn signals;

f. Golf carts must have adequate brakes;

g. Golf carts must not exceed the number of passengers and/or maximum weight limit as suggested by the manufacturer;

h. The maximum speed by which golf carts shall be operated is the posted speed limit.

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