Are Golf Carts Street Smart for San Angelo?
In May of this year, a traffic accident took place on Vanderventer that was anything but routine. An ASU golf cart, in an act of impeccable driving skill, avoided a collision with a moving vehicle, in preference of a parked one.
[caption]An Angelo State University golf cart traversing city streets near the campus (LIVE! Photo by Chelsea Schmid)[/caption]
A citation was issued to ASU, but they were not the only ones to receive tickets this year. An outbreak of golf cart-related citations have occurred recently, most being doled out to the UPS and apartment complexes.
ASU uses golf carts for routine maintenance, which often have to cross the street to get across campus.
The problem? Golf carts are not street legal.
For this reason, ASU requested authorization to operate their golf carts on city streets at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
What should have been a 10-minute discussion, turned into a 25-minute ordeal.
Council members and public commentators disagreed on how open the ordinance should be, and police officers present showed concern as to the breadth of the permissions the proposed ordinance would allow.
‘What we don’t want is for everyone to be able to drive a golf cart through our city’s streets,’ was a concern that echoed through the room as the discussion progressed. However, councilmembers remained divided over the issue.
Councilman Rodney Fleming spoke out with enthused support: “If we did allow people to do this, wouldn’t it be a good thing for our city? To promote not using as much gas, not putting as much pollution out there?” he asked.
But councilwoman Charlotte Farmer, seemed to have other concerns.
“Does this include motorized wheelchairs that terrorize my neighborhood, or is it limited to golf carts?” Farmer asked with a tinge of heat behind the question.
[caption]Dena Street, near Angelo State University will be used most often for ASU golf carts. (LIVE! Photo by Chelsea Schmid)[/caption]
Sgt. Korby Kennedy of the SAPD Traffic Division allayed her fears by stating that the discussed ordinance would apply only to golf carts and not neighborhood electric vehicles.
Interestingly enough, Farmer was silent when the discussion moved to permitting cart usage by apartment complexes and other commercial entities.
However, the question remains, where do we draw the line?
Joe Muñoz, senior executive assistant to the president of Angelo State University, assured City Council that ASU is not seeking a free-for-all.
“Our intent is to use the city streets as a last resort,” said Muñoz, and reiterated that the usage was primarily limited to crossing streets on campus to reach outlying facilities.
Chief of Police Tim Vasquez and Sgt. Kennedy showed support for ASU’s limited street usage, however, emphasized that drivers will require special licensing and all carts must be made street legal.
The debate ended with a unanimous decision to permit limited usage of golf carts by ASU and commercial entities, however these privileges may be revoked at any time.
How limited this usage will be remains to be seen.
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