Kentucky Cities Coming to Terms with Golf Carts on Public Roads

August 13, 2013

Kentucky cities are regulating how and where people can ride golf carts on public streets as the low-power vehicles become more popular as a way to beat high gas prices.

Lewisport in Hancock County is weighing an ordinance this summer while Calhoun and Bowling Green moved in 2011 to allow people to drive the carts on side streets.

Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer that allowing the carts on city streets may be hazardous because of heavy traffic. “It’s not something that we wouldn’t consider, but it could be dangerous,” Payne said. “We have a lot of traffic on our streets. I’m not sure it would be a good idea.”

Kentucky first allowed golf carts on city streets in 2008 — for any streets that were within five miles of a golf course. But the nearness to a golf course was dropped in 2010.

State law now says the carts may not operate at more than 35 mph, carry up to six people and have a maximum weight of 2,500 pounds.

It requires a permit from local government, a sticker saying that the cart has been approved for use on local streets and an inspection by the sheriff. The carts can only travel on streets with a posted limit of 35 mph and only during daylight hours. They must have a slow-moving vehicle emblem attached.

The driver must have a license and insurance.

Golf carts on streets have been around for decades, but mostly in retirement communities built around golf courses.

The city of Palm Desert, Calif., passed its first ordinance to allow them on streets in 1974. Through the years, it has added requirements for safety features such as seat belts, turn signals and brake lights.

Bowling Green public information officer Kim Lancaster said after some initial issues with getting the carts street legal, things are rolling smoothly these days.

“Early on, we had calls about underage kids driving them around neighborhoods and some of them not having seat belts. It was difficult to enforce.”

Lancaster said she’s not aware of any traffic accidents in Bowling Green involving golf carts.

Lewisport Mayor Chad Gregory said for now, the issue of street-legal golf carts is on hold because of questions about how and where the carts could be driven. “Some streets are 35 mph through part of town and then become 45 mph in the middle of town,” Gregory said. “We need to get more answers before we consider it.”

Latest Comments

  • November 24, 2013 at 12:34 am
    Squido W Cash says:
    How could anyone have a concern for a golf cart being a hazard on the city streets when bicycles are already permitted. A golf cart can be required to have seat blts, turn sig... read more
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