Board mulls residential golf cart OK

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 22, 2008

If you take your golf cart for a spin on Natchez Avenue, you might expect to see those flashing blue lights before you’re done.

But some aldermen think if a golf cart owner wants to take a leisurely ride in his cart on city streets in his own neighborhood, he should be allowed to do it.

Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes said some people had spoken to her about wanting to drive their golf carts in residential areas, where currently they’re being ticketed for having the vehicles on the road.

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Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell said he believes the city of Madison allows golf carts on residential streets as long as they are properly equipped with blinkers and other safety measures and are driven by licensed drivers.

“They should be allowed on neighborhood streets as long as they’re driving less than 30 miles an hour,” he said. “I believe the state says if it’s fully equipped you can license it.”

Estes said some of the offenders who have been ticketed are children, and that it was her opinion unlicensed drivers should not be allowed on the roads in golf carts. Meanwhile, she said, she and Police Chief Pap Henderson are exploring whether licensed drivers can drive on neighborhood roads.

Mayor Bob Massengill said city officials will look into the laws on golf carts, but Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron said he is more concerned about people on other motorized vehicles on large thoroughfares in the city.

“What’s really dangerous is these motorized wheelchairs,”Cameron said. “I’ve seen those people almost get hit on Highway 51and at 550.”

The recent First Impressions study mentioned people on motorizedscooters and wheelchairs, saying there is a need for more sidewalksand green space around major thoroughfares as both a safety issueand a visual issue.

“One team member reported, ‘I actually saw an elderly womanriding a motorized wheelchair on the median of the highway,'” thestudy said. “This was extremely disturbing and should shed somelight on the importance of these sidewalk connections.”

Massengill said the city had discussed handicapped lanes on somemajor roads with the Mississippi Department of Transportation atone point, but that the city was turned down.

Maxwell also expressed worry about the merge from Highway 51going south onto Brookway going west. He said a driver has to cranehis neck to see if anything is coming, and that it is particularlydangerous.

Maxwell asked if there were anything that can be done aboutmerge lanes around the 51-Brookway interchange. Massengill said hewould contact MDOT again about the handicapped lanes as well asmerge lanes and try to arrange new talks about the issues.

“It’s worth looking into,” the mayor said. “It’ll never happenif we don’t start trying.”

Aldermen also discussed terms for appointments on citycommittees such as the City Planning Commission, but tabled thediscussion for the next regular meeting, which takes place Nov. 4.The meeting time has been moved up from 6:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. inorder to finish early for federal Election Day.