Ocala officials envision golf carts tooling around downtown
But the growth management office is hosting a pair of meetings on Aug. 18 to get the public’s take on their ideas first.
File photo: Vivian Price drives her golf cart on Southeast 24th Terrace in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.
Almost anywhere you go, golf carts are shuttling by like Fred Flintsone having a “yabba-dabba-do time” but without all the fancy footwork.
The mini vehicles have surged in popularity both on and off the greens. Some drivers even trick their rides out with automobile- and truck-inspired grilles and other accessories.
In Ocala, a pair of downtown meeting sessions will address just where drivers can venture out on city streets.
The city has posted a notice encouraging “downtown business owners, current golf cart permit holders and those potentially impacted by proposed changes” to attend feedback/information sessions at noon and 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18, at the Brick City Center for the Arts, 23 SW Broadway St. The meetings are free and open to the public.
The meetings will explore a “potential” extension of the current boundaries where golf carts are allowed, said Rachel Fautsch, the city’s community outreach manager. City staffers will be on hand to answer questions, and they will provide the same information at both meetings.
For reference, the city has posted on its website a map of boundaries where golf carts are permitted.
The cart-wheeling area currently comprises East Silver Springs Boulevard to the north, Southeast 17th Street to the south, Watula Avenue to the west and Southeast 25th Avenue to the east. City regulations also cap off the vehicles’ top speed to 20 miles per hour.
“We’re inviting people who operate Golf carts to bring up any issues or concerns they might have while we present a proposed boundary extension, taking the area we have now west to Pine Street,” Fautsch said.
The city also hopes that it will be an economic driver for downtown businesses, Fautsch added.
Downtown parking areas are being discussed but no list has been drafted as of press time. Fautsch said she waiting to hear from the engineering office what those proposals will be.According to the city Ordinance 2020-3, drivers operating golf carts or mini trucks can only operate vehicles that do not exceed 20 mph on the city’s streets. They are also required to register their golf cart for a one-time permit at a cost of $30.
Florida Statutes, section 320.01(22), allow golf carts to be operated on roadways that are designated for golf carts with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or less. A little more than 180 golf cart drivers currently hold permits.
The city ordinance that passed two years ago states that an unlicensed driver must be 18 years of age or older or possess a valid state-issued learner’s driver’s license.
When operating a golf cart, the unlicensed driver must be accompanied at all times by another person who holds a valid state-issued driver’s license, is at least 21 years old and occupies the closest seat to the right of the unlicensed driver of the golf cart.
According to research by the Glover Law Firm, 15.2 percent of golf cart injuries occur on streets or public property. While most golf cart injuries occur on sports facilities, the most serious injuries happen when a golf cart is struck by a car or truck.
Under current city regulations, the vehicles are only permitted to travel on roads from sunrise to sunset unless they are equipped with headlights, brake lights, and a windshield — a regulation echoed by the state ordinance.
If you are currently in the golf cart area and haven’t applied for a permit, visit. ocalafl.org/GolfCart to start the application process.
For more information or for accommodations, call the Growth Management office at 352-629-8404; email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ocalafl.org/GolfCart.