Golf carts soon will be allowed for more in Grove City than just transporting people around a golf course.
The city has added provisions to its code that will allow people to drive golf carts on most Grove City roadways with speed limits of 35 mph or lower, as long as the vehicles pass inspection by a law-enforcement agency.
"In no way is this the city restricting golf-cart owners," law director Stephen Smith said. "What we're really doing is creating a pathway to enable people to use their golf carts on our streets."
While "souped-up" golf carts and other "low-speed vehicles" that can reach speeds of 20 to 25 mph previously have been allowed on city streets, "under-speed vehicles" have never been legal, he said.
An "under-speed vehicle" is a three- or four-wheel vehicle that can reach a maximum speed of 20 mph and has a gross vehicle weight of less than 3,000 pounds.
"Typically, an under-speed vehicle is a traditional golf cart, the kind you'll find and use at a golf course," Smith said. "The 'souped-up' vehicles are designed to be used on roadways."
Nationwide, those types of vehicles have become increasingly popular as modes of transportation, especially in golf-course communities, such as Pinnacle in Grove City, he said.
"It's a convenient way for you to pop over to your neighbor's house or to a park in your neighborhood," Smith said.
"We know they're out there," he said. "This is a way to set some regulations to make sure golf carts are operating on the roadway as safely as possible."
An addition to the state law that became effective Jan.1, 2017, Ohio law gives municipalities the authority to regulate the operation of under-speed vehicles on their roadways, Smith said.
City Council on Oct. 21 approved Grove City's new regulations, which will become effective Nov. 21.
As with a low-speed vehicle, traditional golf carts will need to be inspected by the Grove City Division of Police or another law-enforcement agency before they can be used on Grove City streets, Smith said.
To pass inspection, the vehicle will have to include various equipment, including adequate brakes or a braking system; properly working brake lights, headlights, taillights and turn signals; a properly working steering mechanism; a windshield; rearview mirror; a horn that is audible from not less than 200 feet; front and rear license plate and a license plate light and seatbelts for the driver and all passengers.
Anyone operating a golf cart must have a valid driver's license and proof of auto insurance.
Neither low-speed or under-speed vehicles can be driven on Broadway, Stringtown Road or London-Groveport Road -- major streets with 35 mph speed limits -- but drivers are allowed to cross the intersection of those roadways from another street, Smith said.
Although council approved the new regulations by a unanimous vote, some said they gave their assent with a little hesitancy.
At some point, council might want to revisit whether the low-speed vehicles should be allowed on streets with a 35 mph speed limit, Councilman Jeff Davis said.
"When folks are traveling down one of these streets behind one of these golf carts, it's going to slow down traffic," Councilman Ted Berry said. "Hopefully, the people who have (golf carts) will understand that using a golf cart during rush hour is not a wise thing.
"There's going to be a lot of people expressing 'pleasantries,' " if their car gets behind a golf cart, he said.
Experiencing golf carts on roadways will not be that much different for motorists than dealing with bicycles, which also have the right to be on the street, Smith said.
"We learn to accept bicycles, give them room and safely maneuver around them, although it is true that it's easier to get around a bicycle than a golf cart," he said.