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Golf carts can now putter around more Vero streets

For decades, a Vero Beach ordinance allowed local golf cart owners to drive on city streets only in the Riomar Country Club area on the island.

Now, golf carts also may be driven on city streets in the Vero Beach Country Club area.

The City Council voted unanimously last week to expand golf-cart access roads to that mainland neighborhood while updating its ordinance to comply with a new Florida statute that went into effect in October.

In amending the ordinance at its April 9 meeting, the council also approved the use of low speed vehicles (LSVs) – which are similar to golf carts, but can travel at slightly higher speeds – on the 8-foot-wide sidewalk that runs along State Road A1A and connects the Village Beach Market to the pedestrian crossing at Jaycee Beach Park.

The city plans to install the appropriate signage on the sidewalk and in the Vero Beach Country Club area, as well as post a summary of the changes on its website.

“People over there actually drive their golf carts from their homes to the club,” City Councilman John Carroll said, referring to Vero Beach Country Club, “so we thought we would treat them equal to the Riomar Country Club.”

The amended ordinance now allows golf carts on specific sections of Country Club Drive, Laurel Drive, Paloma Drive, Whippoorwill Lane, Catalina Street, 26th Street, Fairway Drive, 25th Street, Coronado Lane and Anita Avenue.

As for letting LSVs use that stretch of sidewalk along A1A, Carroll said the city needed to provide them with safe access to the Central Beach area, where they may use city streets.

Florida law describes an LSV as “any four-wheeled vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 mph but not greater than 25 mph.” Such vehicles must be registered, titled and insured.

Any person operating an LSV must possess a valid driver’s license.

LSVs may be driven only on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less, and they must be equipped with safety features that include a windshield, headlights, tail lights, turn signals, mirrors and seatbelts.

Although it’s unlawful for LSVs to operate on city sidewalks, there is an exception: Local ordinance may permit them to be driven on sidewalks adjacent to a state highway where the sidewalks are at least 8 feet wide and the driver maintains a speed of 15 mph to travel to the nearest designated pedestrian crossing.

Carroll said local residents, including those who live in the neighborhoods behind the Village Beach Market, spend $8,000 to $15,000 to purchase LSVs, and they want to be able to use them.

“The whole emphasis of this is to provide safe passage for everybody,” he added.

Councilwoman Tracey Zudans urged the city to conduct a campaign to educate the public on the rules and regulations governing the use of golf carts and LSVs.

City Manager Monte Falls said he would meet with Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey to discuss what can be done.

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