By Larry Hannan, Contributing Writer
The Jacksonville City Council is poised to vote on an ordinance that would allow golf carts on the roads of Jacksonville under certain circumstances.
The news is likely to surprise many people who thought it already is legal to drive a golf cart on Jacksonville roads, and that’s kind of the point, said council member Matt Schellenberg, who sponsored the bill with fellow council member Al Ferraro.
“A lot more people are doing this than five to 10 years ago,” Schellenberg said, referring to people driving golf carts on public roads. “And technically it’s against the law.”
It makes sense to encourage golf carts since they reduce vehicle emissions and gasoline consumption, he said, while adding that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has not expressed any opposition.
Schellenberg also said some people with physical disabilities cannot drive a car, but they can drive a golf cart.
It was a conversation with someone in that situation that made him think about the ordinance, he said.
The ordinance, 2018-266, which was introduced in April, establishes procedures for approving the use of golf carts on roads in Duval County.
Communities and individuals will be allowed to file an application with the city asking for permission to designate a road or sidewalk as a multiuse path that allows golf carts.
After the city receives an application, the city traffic engineer will conduct a study or review a study submitted by the applicant and determine whether golf carts will be allowed on those sidewalks or roadways.
The city traffic engineer will determine whether golf carts are allowed based on “best practices within the industry” and local, state and federal design standards, according to the proposed ordinance.
If the city traffic engineer rules that golf carts will not be allowed, the applicant could appeal to council.
When golf carts are allowed on a roadway or sidewalk, the applicant would be responsible for installing signage that says golf carts are permitted. The applicant also would be responsible for repairing any signage that is damaged.
The posted speed limit must be 30 mph or less on the roadway for golf carts to be allowed. Golf carts also will not be allowed to travel faster than 15 mph.
Golf carts may only be driven from sunrise to sunset unless the cart is equipped with lights, turn signals and a windshield.
The multiuse path also will be required to have a minimum of 14 feet of clear width with a pavement width of at least 12 feet.
The ordinance also prohibits golf carts from being used on roadways that haven’t been approved for them. The maximum penalty for driving a golf cart on a prohibited road would be $500.
Schellenberg said he hopes the ordinance is enacted by the end of June.
The ordinance, which was approved at the council committee level, is scheduled for the full council Tuesday.
Schellenberg said there are some places that allow golf carts to be driven, such as around Jacksonville Beach.
Ordinance 2017-66, enacted Jan. 24, allows golf carts in Nocatee.
Schellenberg said Nocatee is a perfect example of why the law is needed. The town is partially in Duval County and partially in St. Johns County.