NEWS - Neighbourhood Golf Carts

Neighbourhood Golf Cart SignStarting September 1, 2016 the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has authorized a pilot project to allow golf carts to operate on certain approved local roads in the Town of Qualicum Beach and the Village of Chase. Expected to last up to two years, the project will assess the use of golf carts as an alternative transportation method on low volume, low speed roads. The initiative is aimed at people who are interested in using vehicles other than automobiles to make local, short trips.

Golf carts must meet a number of criteria to be able to participate in the pilot:

  • 2 - 4 seats
  • A steering wheel
  • Service brakes
  • Parking or emergency brakes
  • A rear-view mirror
  • A horn
  • Good quality tires
  • Day time running lights
  • Turn signals
  • Brake lights
  • Reflectors
  • Seatbelts
  • Not exceed a maximum 32 km/h speed rating
  • Be insured through ICBC
  • Have a permit issued by the municipality
  • Be operated by a licensed driver
  • Not carry passengers under 9 years of age
  • Only be operated during daylight hours and when the roads are free of ice, snow and slush

I contacted both local governments and was advised that this was still in the beginning of the planning stages and it would likely be some time yet before you would encounter golf carts using the streets as part of the pilot. They had both made public announcements but are not yet ready to solicit input from residents. This would play an important part going forward, especially since it will need streets with a 30 km/h speed limit. I've asked the City of Rossland for information on how their switch to 30 km/h on residential streets has worked out and will post their response here when I receive it.

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The approach and guidelines seem sensible. There has been growth in the number of electric scooters for people with disabilities .Drivers are increasingly required to be diligent on the increase in traffic of this nature on roads and cross walks and well as increasing numbers of cyclist.I'm wondering if licencing and insurance requirements should  be applied to these users of public roads.

While the focus of Government policy has been slow drivers"left lane hogs", most of the electrcic scooters and cyclists travel well below posted speed limit and impede traffic,especialy on narrow roads.   

Scooters and cyclists have every right to use the roads too. Just because they can't travel at 90 km/h doesn't mean that they should not. After all, they pay the taxes that build the roads as much as any of us. Add pedestrians to the list too.

Why don't we talk about sharing instead of "me first?"

Well ....the Minister of Transportation was concerned that slow drivers were causing accidents ,because of speed differential. It seems he the put the economy first ,by speeding up traffic, but we will see when ICBC finally release injury stats for 2014/2015.

Sharing the road is a reasonable concept, but Pedestrians aren't faring too well in the Comox Valley.Too many drivers here are "me first" and in a hurry. If drivers here can't find time to put on seat belt, will they take time to safely pass a scooter, cyclist or golf car?

The following letter to the editor appeared in the September 20, 2016 edition of the Parksville Qualicum Beach News:

Re: your August 12 story entitled ‘Golf carts OK’d for Qualicum Beach streets’ that was accompanied with a photo of smiling Premier Christy Clark, MLA Michelle Stilwell and Qualicum Mayor Teunis Westbroek.

The story went on to outline the project, which was also approved for Chase, B.C., that would require golf carts to meet specific conditions, including the driver have a valid licence, the carts be registered, insured and have seat belts, signals, a horn, lights and rear-view mirror.

At the Sept. 13 Qualicum Beach town council meeting, the issue was brought forth and deferred again which made me wonder: why didn’t council refer to any of the dozen or so well-written comments and concerns over the last month, opposing this boondoggle in The NEWS’ letters to the editor section?

The project would currently only benefit a few who own the $15,000-$20,000 street-legal golf carts, but the conversion of regular golf carts isn’t an option according to local dealers, nor will they be insured. Just how many and what roads were to be designated low speed (30 km/h) and how much would that cost taxpayers? How much time would the RCMP spend on complaints and accidents that would invariably ensue?

I’m at a loss to understand what possessed the four powers that be listed above to present such an ill-conceived, ludicrous proposal, having not consulted with the manufacturer, insurer, council or residents.

Can you imagine the disastrous liability the town and province would face, should a family sue because a loved one was severely injured or killed, driving their cart around town or while crossing a high-speed intersection?

If it’s a truly worthwhile initiative they’re after, why not consider something that’ll serve all of Qualicum’s residents, and lease a few small, energy-efficient buses/minivans that operate during the daylight hours seven days/week, with regular routes around town at a nominal charge.

The buses could also serve the waterfront during the summer months which would be a boon for tourism and local businesses.

Deb McKinley

Qualicum Beach

It's definitely interesting to read expressions like this, especially when some of the statements can be followed up on. The town council have not deferred again, according to the minutes of the council meeting:

(4) Protective Services (Councillor Bill Luchtmeijer)

Councillor Luchtmeijer commented on:

Low speed golf carts in Qualicum Beach Councillor Luchtmeijer MOVED and Councillor Horner SECONDED, THAT Council refer the issue of use of golf carts and low speed vehicles within Town boundaries to the Select Committee on Public Safety for comment.

It seems to me that council is proceeding prudently and examining the idea carefully before they carry forward.

Reading further she quotes the newspaper story stating that insurance would be required for these vehicles, then she goes on to say that they won't be insured and what liability will there be if a collision occurs. Well, since ICBC will be insuring them, the liability is exactly the same as it would be with any other collision that occurs on the streets of the town today.

As for public consultation, it's started already, click the select committee on public safety link above to see who is who. The program has been announced, council is exploring it's options, and when I contacted them for this article they said public consultation would follow. General public comment is still on the horizon.

Just for fun, I contacted the retailer of golf carts suitable for use in this project. A new economy model would be $6,699.00, not the $15K to $20K the lady suggests.

I suspect that the real issue here is still going to be the 30 km/h speed limit, not the use of low speed vehicles within town boundaries.

Our streets are public thoroughfares that already contain a mix of users with different top speeds. They are not the sole domain of the motor vehicle and its driver. It's time that we looked more clearly at sharing rather than exclusivity.

The September 13, 2016 council agenda mentions first reading of a new bylaw that is not yet posted on the village's web site.

Public consultation appears to have been ended on September 9, residents were asked to consider 4 different route maps. An information package is available for citizens to review before providing feedback.

In my opinion. I see no reason what so ever to have higher than a 30 km/hr speed limit on any of the roads involved in the 2 year trial area, plus the added bonus of less motor vehicle pollution and greater safety for pedestrians. Seems like a win-win situation to me.

It appears that the government is having second thoughts about this program. In a news release dated October 5, 2016 Minister Todd Stone announced that "As a result of this community input, and the responsiveness of both Qualicum Beach and Chase councils, I believe it makes sense for us to take some time over the winter to address the concerns we've heard to make sure that this project is a success in the spring for your communities. This will include a re-think of the 30km/hour maximum speed limit."

Funny, but there has been nothing at all about this in the local newspaper that covers Qualicum Beach, nor is there anything on the Town's web site beyond an announcement of the program. It is not mentioned in the Transportation Priorities 2016 Update either.

I wonder where all this feedback came from and if it included anything negative other than the 30 km/h speed limit requirement.

SENSE: All of Todd Stones ideas have to pass the speed advocacy groups approval, that's Todd's favorite place for his "Safety Facts", If you look at Everything Todd has done, it mirrors the speed advocacy's mentality to a T, and a cheer goes through that speed advocacy group every time Todd caves in to changing rules to match the speed demons beliefs.

This is not just my belief either, many safety professionals I talk with agree, we all shake our heads at Todd Stones view of actual safety. Look at the 2 communities that would drop to 30 km/hr, then look at the maps of the roads that would be effected. It would barely add on a few seconds to slow to 30 km/hr and would increase the survivability to all involved should a crash occur, including pedestrians, yet now Todd Stone is doing road safety like he always has done,,,,,,,,,,, NOT on Safety, but Instead on Political Brownie Points, he is far more concerned with public POPULARITY and his Paycheck rather than Actual Safety for the public.

SENSE complains if the speed is dropped anywhere, and Todd knows this is how the vast majority of voters think when it comes to total lack of proper safety knowledge and rely's rather on the selfish need for speed.

Meanwhile, Cities around the world are catching on to safety over public popularity and are dropping their speeds to 40 & 30 km/hr with great success in city & residential areas.

So with an election coming up, don't plan on any speeds dropping anywhere as long as Todd Stone is in office, it might risk some votes for him, his ONLY CONCERN!!!

What about the run-of-the-mill plain, ordinary, everyday golf carts straight from golf courses commonly and widely used in gated communities TODAY? I understand ICBC's requirements for golf carts in municipalites, such as Chase, but is there something that can be done about their use in gated communities with 20 Km/h speed limits - the standard max on golf carts? I've already modified my gas golf cart with a bicycle horn, rear view mirror and can easily add headlights and taillights. but brakelights, seat belts, turn indicators and daylight operation only? Seems to be overkill. Not looking for ICBC coverage necessarily.