Editorial: Lower Speed Limits To Avoid Cart Tickets

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 19 July 2017 04:00

Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Police Department has started writing tickets to people operating golf carts in the 45mph zone on North Lake Park Blvd north of the intersection with Dow Road. The Highway Patrol is also writing tickets.

Under North Carolina State Law, golf carts can only travel on roads with a speed limit of 35mph or less. Carts can cross roads with higher limits, but can't travel on them.
Carolina Beach permits the use of golf carts with the annual purchase of a decal-permit.

The only roads in Town that have a speed limit above 35mph are Dow Road and the portion of North Lake Park Blvd north of Dow.

People driving their permitted carts around Town can no longer easily access businesses north of Dow Road including Walgreens, Food Lion, businesses in The Pavilion including doctors offices and a coffee shop. This includes other businesses in the Snow's Cut Shopping Center as well as the Carolina Beach Branch of the New Hanover County Library. It also includes cart owners living the Portside Village subdivision.

Cart owners can still access those businesses, but they must take extremely extended routes through residential areas and other busy streets such as Saint Joseph Street - a common alternate route for local motorists during the summer to avoid tourism traffic congestion on Lake Park.

The Police Department began writing tickets to people driving their carts within the 45mph zone after the Town Council began focusing on golf cart safety earlier this summer.

The Town Council should consider adopting a resolution - following a public hearing - to request the North Carolina Department of Transportation reduce the speed limit to 35mph on North Lake Park Blvd from the intersection of Dow Road north to just before the approach of Snow's Cut Bridge.

This section of Lake Park Blvd is very short. The majority of the time, in between the light at Dow Road and the light at the entrance of Food Lion, the distance prohibits vehicles from reaching 45mph before catching a red light.

Additionally, with increased foot traffic in the area due to increased residential and commercial development,  more people are using the intersection at Food Lion to cross the busy road on foot. 45mph isn't exactly a good fit for increasing foot traffic.

Additionally, a reduction of 10mph during busy summer traffic congestion will make little or no difference in the movement of traffic in terms of quantity verses pedestrian movement across the highway.

The Council has in previous years requested NCDOT reduce the speed limit from 45mph to 35mph in the area near Town Hall because a former golf cart taxi service owner pointed out that he couldn't take people to Town Hall or CVS Pharmacy due state law prohibiting cart use within a 45mph zone. In that case, the NCDOT granted the Council's request as long as they adopted a resolution in support of the change.

The Council should adopt a resolution to resolve the current situation where Town permitted golf carts can't drive on a portion of the main thoroughfare.

Additionally, the Council should include a request to reduce the speed limit on Dow Road from the intersection with North Lake Park Blvd west to the entrance of Carolina Beach State Park. Reduce it from 45 or 55 down to 35mph. With over 50 new residential units being built along this already business State Highway,  reducing the speed limit is the only safe option and also opens that section of roadway to the use of Town permitted golf carts.

Sure, locals know the back roads, but even those back road routes are inconvenient. Newcomers to the area who purchase carts and permits will find it hard to navigate the area and in turn end up driving on the side of the road in the grass, sand or just violating the law and risking a ticket.

The Council can resolve all of those scenarios by adopting a resolution and asking NCDOT to lower the speed limit in these areas.


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