The Village of Delta won’t decide until next year whether to allow golf carts on its streets, but the mayor-elect is cautiously enthusiastic.
Bob Gilbert, who sits on Village Council until he becomes mayor Jan. 1, led a discussion about golf cart use in the village at a Dec. 2 meeting. He reiterated a list of pros and cons drafted during a Nov. 25 meeting of the village’s Rules and Ordinances Committee, which included:
• Golf carts can be used as recreational vehicles at the village park; they’re more economical to drive through the village than automobiles; they offer better visibility when driving; they produce revenue for the village through inspections.
• Golf carts have no place to cross north to south on Main Street; their use in some village areas would be prohibited due to traffic concerns.
Gilbert said before the village approves golf cart use he’d like information from area communities where it’s been authorized.
“I’m not prepared to make a decision until I find out from some of these other communities…the downside, if there is one, in those communities,” he told the council. He questioned whether they have experienced issues with associated laws being violated.
In particular, he wants information from communities that permit golf carts and, like Delta, accommodate a major highway. He said before any law is enacted the village would have to determine whether golf carts would be permitted on State Highway 109 and U.S. 20A.
Gilbert told the council if safety concerns are met based on legalizing, licensing, and insuring the vehicles, and if they’re operated by licensed drivers, “I can see some positives to having some golf carts within the village.”
Council members voted to table further discussion until at least their Dec. 16 meeting.
Gilbert said Friday he was initially against allowing golf carts on village streets when the idea surfaced about a year ago. “But I found out from other communities that you have to be pretty safe-minded to put them out on the street,” he said.
Golf carts would not only face an annual inspection, they would have to strictly adhere to many of the rules placed on automobiles, he said. That would include brake lights, being operated by licensed drivers, being insured, and having restrictions on which surfaces and streets they can be driven.
Archbold currently has three or four licensed golf carts traveling village streets. A golf cart must pass a one-time police inspection and carry license plates to qualify. Once it’s legal for the streets, it must be driven only by a licensed driver and it must obey all traffic laws.
Due to its low speed, a golf cart is prohibited from traveling on Defiance Street (State Highway 66), Stryker Street (State Highway 2), and any street with a speed limit over 35 miles per hour. “It would inhibit the traffic that regularly travels on those roadways, and it would be unsafe,” Police Chief Leo Wixom said.
The law for golf carts has been on the village books since the early 2000s, and Wixom said he hasn’t encountered any obstacles with their use.
“If you spend the time to get that golf cart legal, to drive on the roadway, then I don’t think it’s a problem,” he said.
Not all of the county’s communities are as enthusiastic. Wauseon Police Chief Kevin Chittenden said golf carts aren’t permitted on city streets, and believes they would be overwhelmed by larger vehicles including semi trucks.
“I think Wauseon has too much traffic. For the smaller villages, it might be feasible,” he said.
The city does allow some under-speed vehicles on city streets that benefit businesses, but they must adhere to strict regulations.
Gilbert said Delta residents arguing against this mode of transportation “in my opinion don’t realize all the hoops these people have to go through to get a golf cart on the street. I don’t think these people have looked into all the arguments. They don’t have the insight.“
He pointed out that motorcycles and mopeds are licensed to travel roadways, “and they are probably less safe than a golf cart.”
Gilbert said passing golf cart legislation likely wouldn’t occur, if at all, until sometime in 2020.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.