Golf carts could be allowed on Galax streets

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By Shaina Stockton, Staff

After months of research and discussion, Galax City Council has approved a draft ordinance to allow golf carts on certain roads in and around the city’s downtown area.
Council made the decision to move forward with the ordinance last month.

“There are still a few things that need to be added [to the ordinance]... streets that need to be approved,” said City Manager Keith Barker, as council pored over the documents included in their meeting packets. Papers included a map highlighting the recommended streets for the new ordinance.
Barker listed the requirements included in the draft.
Operators must have a valid driver’s license.
They must operate the cart on streets with speed limits of 25 miles per hour or less, and not on sidewalks.
A fee is set at $25 per cart and a decal will be provided after proof of insurance, inspection and a waiver is signed. Insurance has been set at $50,000.
Carts can only operate from dusk until dawn from April 1 to Oct. 31.
No children under 8 years of age can ride, and all passengers must be in a seat.
Inspection of carts can be performed at any licensed or certified Virginia vehicle inspection provider.
“If you should choose to proceed, we would fill the portion that lists the streets [on the map],” Barker explained.
Streets outlined in the map consisted mainly of the downtown area and streets west to Reserve Blvd. It was not recommended to approve carts on West Stuart Drive from Lafayette to West Oldtown streets due to the hills limiting sight distance. “We would also recommend not permitting Fries Road, Kenbrook Drive, Poplar Knob Road or Country Club Lane in the future as additional applications are received,” Barker said, due to high traffic counts, sight distance and varying elevations found while studying these areas.
“Could you operate a golf cart at night if you had lights installed?” asked council member Margo Crouse.
Not the way the draft reads now, said Barker.
“Would brake lights be a nice thing to have as a safety feature?” asked council member Sharon Plichta.
“I’m not sure how hard that would be to add to a cart,” Barker said. “There’s more cost involved, because the standard golf cart doesn’t have headlights or tail lights.”
He noted that there is another requirement to have a reflective plate on the back of the cart indicating a slow-moving vehicle, which is enough of an indicator when paired with the previous restrictions of dawn to dusk.
“Will they have safety belts?” asked Crouse.
“Not a requirement under the state code,” answered Barker.
“So, what we have to do now is address the language issues that are not yet addressed then have a public hearing,” inferred council member John Garner.
“We just need to address the section that is missing from the ordinance where the streets are determined. If the map is agreeable, we will list the streets accordingly,” Barker said.
Following approval of the draft, a public hearing would then be scheduled as the next step.
Plichta made a motion to adopt the draft ordinance. Seconded by council member Bill Webb, the draft was unanimously approved.