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Golf cart ordinance to crack down on unlicensed, underage drivers

By Staff | Oct 1, 2009

At the September meeting of the Captiva Community Panel, panel administrator Ken Gooderham announced that the new golf cart ordinance was officially approved by the state and will soon be enforced.

The new ordinance requires anyone who operates a golf cart to be age 16 or over and have a valid driver’s license and also states that carts operating the cart at night – which has now been approved for the village – must be fully equipped with lights, seatbelts and turn signals.

Captivan Sherrill Sims says she’s delighted with the new golf cart ordinance.

“I actually have an NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) which I purchased two-and-a-half years ago and adore! It has probably cut my automobile gas consumption in half, if not more,” Sims said.

Sims is a real estate agent and says that nothing illustrates the island lifestyle better than looking at properties from a golf cart.

“The difference between an NEV and a golf cart is speed – the NEV goes about 25 miles per hour – equipment, such as safety belts and the NEV is street-legal (insured and licensed). The NEV can go anywhere the speed limits are posted at 35 miles per hour or less,” Sims said.

But Sims is also pleased with the ordinance because it requires drivers to be licensed.

“The main reason I am glad we now have a golf cart ordinance is the age restriction on the drivers. We who live year-round on Captiva have all seen extremely young children driving carts throughout our neighborhoods and hold our breaths watching what could happen. We have also seen too many people piled into carts. We now have laws ‘on the books’ which can be enforced,” she said.

“The nighttime driving does not appear to be a problem. Parking is easier, there are no gas fumes, you see so much more of the Island from a cart as opposed to a car and it is just a ton of fun! For those opposed, they are welcome to take my cart for a spin, feel the rays of the sun and the tickle of the island breezes and I promise you, they will change their minds,” Sims said.

Harry Silverglide, a Captiva resident, avid golf cart driver and member of the Captiva Community panel says that he is also pleased that the ordinance was finally approved.

“Besides being environmentally friendly, golf carts and low speed vehicles help solve a few other issues for Captiva, like helping to reduce parking issues as well as keeping unlicensed, less skilled drivers off of the road,” Silverglide said.

The next golf cart issue to be explored is the possible extension of the golf cart zone down to ‘Tween Waters Inn on Captiva Drive.

“I’m very much in favor of it. Harry Campbell (of the Lee County Department of Transportation) and the Lee traffic study found it to be safe and prudent,” Silverglide said.

At a previous community panel meeting, Campbell said that LCDOT had examined what the potential impact of extending daytime and nighttime operations down to ‘Tween Waters would be and, depending on where the cart is, the delay created by golf carts sharing the road with cars would amount to an additional one to two minutes, which Campbell concluded was not a significant delay.

“Extending drive time by one to two minutes if the golf cart does not pull over seems a very small price for the benefit of easy movement between ‘Tween Waters and the village,” Silverglide said.

“I really don’t understand why Captivans would not be in favor of golf cart use on all of Captiva. If golf cart drivers were taught how to pull over and let car and truck traffic pass, there would be no issue.

“If you don’t have a few extra minutes, Captiva may not be the place or lifestyle you are looking for. I always thought that was the point of living in or visiting paradise,” Silverglide concluded.

Residents who are concerned with extending the golf cart zone are encouraged to attend panel meetings to make their opinions heard. The panel will meet again on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 9 a.m. in the Wakefield Room at ‘Tween Waters Inn, 15951 Captiva Drive.