PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Fort Myers taps the brakes on allowing golf carts on some streets

Road Rat Motors via Flickr creative commons

Fort Myers city leaders want more information before drafting an ordinance to allow golf carts on some streets, under certain conditions. The idea is getting the attention of some residents and city council members.

Councilman Fred Burson brought up the idea at a recent meeting. He proposed allowing golf carts on streets with speed limits of 35 mph and lower. He said drivers would have to be at least 18 years old and have a valid state driver's vehicle. The carts would have to be registered, and must have lights and seat belts. "I'm just trying to legalize what's happening now in the downtown and McGregor area, and in some of our golf course communities," Burson said.

He added that currently some people drive the carts on sidewalks, and end up competing with pedestrians and bicyclists. "The current condition is a hazard to walkers and bikers right now," Burson said.

Councilman Johnny Streets, a former police officer, expressed concerns. "You haven't worked an accident between a truck and golf cart, or car and golf cart," Streets said. "The cart is open and the vehicle will go right through it. It is a safety issue."

Councilwoman Terolyn Watson also voiced doubts. "Peoples' kids are going to use the golf carts. You can't tell me they won't use the golf carts," Watson said.

Steve Wight lives in Pelican Preserve, and said carts on some streets could be good. "It is going to take an education campaign for the car drivers," Wight said. "They are going to have to learn to look out for golf carts as well as pedestrians and bicyclists."

Right now golf carts are allowed on streets in only a few places, including in some mobile home communities and the Whiskey Creek neighborhood.

Fort Myers Police Captain Shawn Yates said that what looks like a golf cart, may actually be a low-speed vehicle. He said those vehicles are allowed on streets with speed limits of 35 mph or lower. State law allows the low-speed vehicles, he noted, but the law also requires them to be registered and have safety equipment.

The Fort Myers City Council is asking staffers to research communities that allow golf carts on streets and come back with more information and ideas.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

Forty-one-year veteran of television news in markets around the country, including more than 18 years as an anchor and reporter at WINK-TV in southwest Florida.