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County rejects golf cart proposal

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GREENFIELD — Golf carts won’t be allowed on county roads, Hancock County Commissioners said Tuesday, despite one man’s effort to change local laws so more seniors like him can enjoy leisurely rides through the countryside.

Dan Taylor walked away from the meeting upset, feeling like his hobby of the past three years was taken away from him.

“I guess I’ll sell this (golf cart) and buy a horse and buggy,” Taylor said tongue-in-cheek, noting that other non-traditional vehicles are allowed on roadways around the state.

Taylor lives southwest of Greenfield, and for the past three years, he has been taking his wife, Beverly, on drives through the countryside on their golf cart. But in October, after picking up his grandson from Greenfield’s Weston Elementary School, Taylor was surprised to be pulled over by a police officer who told him it was against the law to drive a golf cart on city streets.

State law says it’s unlawful to drive a golf cart on public streets unless a city or town adopts an ordinance regulating the vehicles. Neither Greenfield nor Hancock County has passed a law.

Taylor hasn’t driven his cart on public roads since he was pulled over. He talked to Greenfield Police Maj. Derek Towle about the issue. Towle, the city’s traffic safety officer who’s also a county commissioner, has a lot of say on the issue because it would require both the city and the county to pass the ordinance.

Towle, however, is against the idea and told his fellow commissioners so Tuesday.

“We’re not a lakeside community where everyone is driving slow,” Towle said. “On some county roads, people drive 70 to 80 mph.”

While Taylor pointed out that slow-moving vehicles like mopeds are allowed on streets, Towle said local officials don’t have a say in the state’s law on mopeds.

“I’d like mopeds, bikes off the roads; I’m not an advocate for motorcycles, either,” Towle said.

But Taylor said a golf cart law could have safety provisions, such as requirements for a driver’s license and standards for brake lights, tail lights, turn signals and a horn. People investing that much effort and money into making their carts safe, he argued, would be safe drivers.

Commissioner Brad Armstrong asked questions over why tractors and other vehicles are allowed, saying he sees golf carts as an alternative to cars in rural neighborhoods.

But Armstrong said after the meeting that golf carts wouldn’t be safe on heavily traveled county roads, and it would be hard to pass an ordinance distinguishing between county neighborhood roads and other rural roads.

President Tom Stevens, citing safety concerns, was also against the idea.

While Taylor could still pitch the idea for carts to the Greenfield City Council, he said the point is moot. Taylor lives on a county road and wants to drive primarily on county roads.

Besides, the city’s traffic safety committee – of which Towle is the leader – has already decided to make an unfavorable recommendation to the city council should a golf cart ordinance ever come before it.

“I guess I’m going to have to (sell my golf cart) because there’s no sense; I can’t drive it,” Taylor said after the meeting. “It’s like if you go out and buy a lawnmower and you’ve got no grass. You can’t use it.”

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