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The latest on golf carts being allowed on some Gainesville streets
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A man on a golf cart drives along A Avenue Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, in Chicopee Village. Gainesville is considering an ordinance that will allow golf carts to drive on city roads. - photo by Scott Rogers

Update: Gainesville approved an ordinance at its regular meeting Tuesday, Dec. 6, that allows people to drive golf carts on city streets.

Original story: Pretty soon, it could be legal to drive golf carts on certain roads in Gainesville. 

At Thursday’s city work session, Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish pitched a proposed golf cart ordinance that would allow residents 16-and-up with a valid driver’s license to legally operate golf carts on some roads in Gainesville – something he indicated has already been happening, unregulated.

“Contrary to popular belief, it is illegal to operate a golf cart on the streets of Gainesville unless the governing body allows it under state law,” Parrish said. “We think golf carts are a need. We think it’s environmentally friendly. We think it’s really cool for some of the families to come into our dining district and it needs to be allowed.”

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Signage along Windsor Drive in the Kensington subdivision in South Hall Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, warning motorists of golf carts crossing the road from Royal Lakes golf course. Gainesville is considering an ordinance that will allow golf carts to drive on city roads. - photo by Scott Rogers

Gainesville City Council will consider the ordinance during a regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Public Safety Complex.

Under the proposed ordinance, Parrish told council there will be a number of regulations in accordance with state law, including an age restriction and basic laws applicable to other motorized vehicles like light requirements, seat belts, head lights, brake lights and turn signals. 

Parrish, who said those who operate golf carts on public roads under the current law may be cited, stated there would be designated roads that golf carts would be permitted to travel if the ordinance is approved. 

“You do have to be 16 (years old), you do have to have a driver’s license, you cannot drive on the state highway system, and only on roads of 35-miles-an-hour or less,” Parrish said. “There will be designated areas where you can cross the state highway system.”

According to City Manager Bryan Lackey, details regarding implementation of the ordinance could be decided after it’s approved, as city officials look to discern the safest access points to the downtown areas on the north and south sides of Jesse Jewell Parkway. Like Parrish, Lackey believes this could enhance downtown Gainesville. 

“I think we can adjust it down the road,” Lackey said. “I think the emphasis has been that a lot of folks want to bring their golf carts into downtown…a good first step is for two or three of the roads to have a crossing.”

Parrish told The Times that while there haven’t been any preliminary studies to gauge the potential impact of the ordinance, city officials gathered input from municipalities with golf cart ordinances in place, such as Cumming and Peachtree City.

“We went to other communities to see how they were addressing it, and that’s how we got to where we are,” he said. “...the need was kind of driven by the community wanting us to do something. I think this is a great thing, and it’s got to be handled with care. Hopefully it’ll add more to our downtown driving district.”

Golf carts would be allowed to park in downtown parking decks, according to city officials, and ATVs like four-wheelers wouldn’t be permitted on city streets. 

City officials will move to educate the public on specifics of the ordinance if it’s approved Thursday.