The question seemed benign enough — should golf carts be allowed on Windsor streets?
But if an hour-long discussion during Monday’s town board work session is any indication, the solution may be more nebulous than anyone could have ever anticipated.
Carts — legally known as golf “cars” — have been permitted in parts of Windsor after years of rule changes dating back to 2005. Currently, communities may petition to allow the carts, though Water Valley is the only one that has taken advantage of the offer. Now in 2012, demand continues to increase, prompting town leaders to revisit just how lax to be with cart laws and whether to make a cart corridor through Windsor.
Partly for recreation and partially for practicality, more residents are using carts. But what some view as convenient and inexpensive transportation, police see as a bottle-necking nightmare between slow-moving carts — limited to 20 mph — and fast moving full-sized cars. Many roads in town, police said, were striped with a double-yellow line, meaning automobiles can’t pass the carts. Many more, they said, don’t have bike lanes or adequate space for passing, all creating a traffic headache.
“I see it as a major road block in the traffic flow throughout our whole community,” said Police Chief John Michaels. He added that amid already confusing street relationships between cyclists and motorists, subtle changes to cart rules could be easier said than done.
“There’s a lot of misinformation,” he said, referring to an incident from summer where a 14-year-old cart operator drove on sidewalks because that’s what the child’s parents apparently said was legal.
Board members toyed with solutions ranging from identification placards and new signs on roads to permit changes and even a comprehensive map with streets that can or cannot be traveled on.
To complicate matters further, carts are prohibited from crossing certain streets because of traffic speed and are barred from roads like State Highway 392 and State Route 257.
Though exact figures are unknown, estimates Monday indicated fewer than 200 carts are currently cruising around town, which led Robert Bishop-Cotner to see things a little differently. He said the small number of carts shouldn’t be allowed to “dictate” such a potentially sweeping change in Windsor. Citing safety concerns with carts that can weigh more than 1,000 pounds and lack of insurance requirements, he disagreed with some members of the board, including Mayor John Vazquez, who favors exploring potential changes.
“To me, there is some opportunity for some people to maybe find a different mode of transportation that’s a little bit more cost effective,” Vazquez said. “The accessibility piece, I think, is important.”
Resort-style communities like Windsor have popped up across the country with a special presence in southern states like Arizona where year-long golfing is possible and popular among residents.
By the end of the discussion, only one thing remained clear — the issue is not going away. The board requested more information and directed staff to explore corridor options, which will be discussed at least once more in a future work session.
“I’m concerned,” said Ivan Adams, who saw both sides of the issue in Windsor. “I don’t see any problems with golf carts, but by the same token, I think they can be abused.”