Police chief: No golf carts on streets

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Richmond council told the open vehicles would not be safe in city traffic

Richmond Police Chief Michael Britt wastes no words about letting golf carts roam city’s streets.
“Let me be clear, I do not support permitting golf carts on the city streets of Richmond.” Britt told the Richmond Common Council on July 18. Britt said Richmond Police will enforce state law when it comes to golf carts on the streets, ticketing the drivers when called for.
If comments from some Common Council members are an indication, driving golf carts on Richmond streets will not be legal any time soon. Council member Bill Engle asked the chief if the city had been receiving requests for letting golf carts use the streets. Britt said it’s been a hot topic in a few conversations.
Council members Jane Bumbalough and Jeff Locke each said they have not been contacted about allowing golf carts on streets. They agreed with Britt that it should not be legalized. Ron Oler said only licensed vehicles are allowed.
The city last discussed legalizing golf carts on city streets in 2019, the chief said. Since then, Wayne County government legalized the use of utility task vehicles (UTVs) on county roadways. However, golf carts are not UTVs and city streets are much different than county roads, Britt said.
Among problems he cited with golf carts: the open body design increases the likelihood of ejection in an accident, they are top heavy, they accelerate and brake differently than cars and trucks, and most are not equipped with the safety equipment required of licensed motor vehicles. Because they go slower than 30 mph they will create congestion on city streets.
He said the line of sight at intersections is greater in the country. Buildings, signage and traffic in the city make it harder for drivers to accurately judge conditions. Traffic flow is more concentrated in the city.
If golf carts on streets are legalized, the city would have to set standards for their use, including registration, licensing of drivers, required equipment and insurance.
People have been observed driving golf carts on streets. Britt spoke of a picture he has seen of six teens on one, with two girls hanging off the sides. “That’s a tragedy waiting to happen,” he said.
In other business during its 42-minute meeting, the council took the expected actions on the city’s new Climate Action Plan and removing Richmond Power & Light from the jurisdiction of the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission.
The council referred the Climate Action Plan to the Advisory Plan Commission, which was to review it on July 26. It contains no mandates but does include strategies to deal with and reduce the effects of climate changes on the city, said Matt Evans, who chairs the committee that developed it starting about five years ago.
The council also approved a resolution asking the RP&L’s plan for removal from the IURC to be placed on the Nov.8 general election ballot. Responding to the IURC’s regulations and procedures is expensive and time consuming said Tony Foster, the utility’s general manager.
The council also approved moving $100,000 out of a police salary account to pay unanticipated expenses in other parts of the police budget, including about $35,000 for gasoline and motor oil due to higher prices. The police department annually uses about 75,000 gallons of gasoline, Britt said.
Richmond Fire Department asked for permission to pay $1.5 million cash for a 100-foot aerial truck. Paying cash would save the city $68,549 over the cost of a lease. The council referred the proposal to its finance committee for review
The council’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 1, in the Municipal Building, 50 N. 5th St. The public may attend or watch live or later rebroadcast on WGTV.

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