Both sides presented valid arguments about golf carts

ACHTUNG: The following is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

It is my custom to comment on the big issues of the day and rarely do I shrink from such responsibilities as an editor.

However, I confess to not taking a stand on the recent controversy that arose over suggestions to allow people to use golf carts within the Wayland city limits. The reason is quite simple — I can see merit in both sides of the argument, which renders me wishy-washy.

Former Mayor Burrell Stein was right when he maintained that this changing world creates different ways to handle challenges. He asserted that older citizens in cities like Wayland would find a viable solution to getting around the town to do shopping or make appointments.

Some local businesses, as represented by the Downtown Development Authority, see permitting golf cart use on city streets as a boon to the economic health of Wayland.

Golf carts in these modern times are used a lot in tight-knit communities such as campgrounds and some trailer parks. Some area communities also have agreed to allow the carts.

They enable older citizens to get around without having to get into their cars every time they want to go somewhere. And many of the carts are electric and save the need for so much gas for their automobiles, trucks and SUVs.

On the other hand, at least four City Council members insist this is a safety issue, noting golf carts do not provide users with a lot of protection in case they are struck by cars, trucks or SUVs.

Golf carts generally do not exceed 25 miles an hour and these “slowpokes” could cause traffic bottlenecks and perhaps more crashes.

We live in an increasingly permissive society that allows dangerous fireworks to be used casually in our communities, we have welcomed off-road vehicles to our roads in rural areas and we have embraced gambling as a more common activity in our midst.

I personally have had issues with fireworks and with snowmobiles as nuisances and I have a hard time accommodating so much more noise pollution.

The biggest problem for me, however, is the difficulty in effectively enforcing dangerous or illegal activity with fireworks, driving golf carts and snowmobiles. Whenever some scofflaw shoots off fireworks at an inappropriate time just for the fun of it or zig zags on snow-covered roads with snowmobiles, reporting the offenders usually results in nothing done about it.

And golf carts simply provide more opportunities for these problems to fester.

The council has made its decision on the matter. Those who want to have an ordinance crafted to permit golf carts should gather petitions for signatures and have the issue placed on the ballot next May, when the local school district plans to go back to the voters on the bond issue again.    

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