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Monday, July 6, 2020

Golf Carts in Fort Thomas: here's what you need to know

Golf carts offer a unique and fun opportunity to get around town in Fort Thomas.

by Robin Gee

Fort Thomas is known as a walkable city, but not as many people know that it also presents other non-automobile options.



"We have a unique situation in that you can get from one end of town to the other in a golf cart," said Fort Thomas city council member Jeff Bezold. "It’s fun way to experience the city."

Bezold drives a golf cart around town himself and has been one of the city’s biggest proponents of the activity.

"The idea came to me when thinking about the challenging parking situation we have in both the Central Business and Midway districts. The initial discussion was around using golf carts as a shuttle service through town," he said.

His initial thought was that a private company could run a shuttle or perhaps the Fort Thomas Business Association could provide the cart and sell ad space on it to help offset operating costs.

"After discussing the idea with many residents, the question came up around personal use of carts on city streets. At that time, I worked with Ron Dill, city administrator, and Jann Seidenfaden, city attorney, on the possibility in Fort Thomas," Bezold explained.

Developing the idea


After much research on the subject, he discovered that many communities in the Greater Cincinnati area and in Kentucky have added golf carts as an acceptable mode of transportation on city streets.

Bezold worked with Dill, Seindenfaden and other city officials to create a Fort Thomas ordinance.

"We have built in safety measures above the state statute. These are listed in the ordinance and brochure. There is a link to the local ordinance, information brochure and city stick application on the City website under the news section," he added.

He said carts may even help open the door to grants that could make the city more environmentally friendly. Grants are available for cities looking to add electric vehicle charging stations. Golf carts could take advantage of that as well and help encourage something like that in the future, he said.

The city passed an ordinance In September 2019. Requests for permits have started to pick up now that we are in the warm months of the year. So far, 10 permits have been issued.




A few rules to note


The Fort Thomas Golf Cart Ordinance outlines rules for driving a golf cart within city limits:

  • Drivers must have a valid driver’s license and be at least 19 years old to drive a golf cart in the city. Council has discussed revisiting this rule later to possibly allow for younger drivers but will wait and see how things unfold this season.
  • Driving is only allowed on roads with a posted speed of 30 miles per hour. Within the city, there are four designated spots where drivers are permitted to cross over 35 MPH streets:
    - Highland Avenue and Grand Avenue
    - Pentland Place and Grand Avenue
    - Woodfill Avenue and US 27/Alexandria
    - Grandview Avenue and US 27/Alexandria
  • Golf carts can be operated after dark. This reflects a recent change in state law, and allows for situations such as returning from an evening concert or event.
  • Golf carts must display a city permit on the passenger side of the windshield; as well as slow moving traffic indicator.
  • Golf carts may only be parked on hard surfaces in parking spaces; no parking on city sidewalks.
  • Golf carts must only be driven on the right-hand lane and must yield to vehicles.

 
After passing an inspection and getting your permit, display it on your golf cart windshield for all to see, and you are off to explore the city in a whole new way.

 

Equipment rules and requirements


Golf carts must also be equipped with:

  • Head lamps and tail lamps
  • Stop lamps
  • Front and rear turn signals
  • One red reflector on each side as far to the rear as possible and one reflex reflector in the rear
  • A slow moving vehicle emblem
  • An exterior mirror mounted on the driver’s side and either an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger’s side or an interior mirror
  • A parking brake and seat belts for each seat
  • A horn (but must adhere to city noise level laws)

 

Getting a city permit


Once you’ve purchased your golf cart, and it's properly equipped, says Bezold, the next step is to contact the sheriff’s office. The sheriff can come out to your home and do an inspection for a total cost of $15.

If your cart passes inspection, the sheriff will sign off. Take the inspection papers, along with proof of insurance, and an application form (see below) to the Fort Thomas city building. For $25 you will receive your permit and permit stickers. Permits must be renewed each year.

"As a city councilman and golf cart owner, I have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback about the golf cart program. As long as the public follows the guidelines in place, this should be a fun yet safe experience," said Bezold.

"We have a beautiful city and being able to experience our community in a golf cart is a fun and unique way to get around."

Some direct links to city golf cart information include:

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