Around Christmas of last year, some people thought the streets of Dalton might look a little different by this summer — there'd be golf carts zipping along many residential lanes.
But that didn't happen.
That December the Dalton City Council approved an ordinance allowing for the operation of the tricked-out golf carts, or personal transportation vehicles (PTVs), on some residential streets if folks from a neighborhood requested it and the council OK'd it.
So far, the Windemere subdivision on the north side of the city near Haig Mill Lake Park is the only place where PTVs are legal to operate.
"I am a little perplexed by that," Mayor Dennis Mock, who lives in the subdivision, told this newspaper. "I would have thought more neighborhoods would have requested that we look at them by now."
Maybe the lack of requests isn't so surprising considering the restrictions, including those for safety, and our "lay of the land."
The PTVs are no ordinary golf carts. These vehicles, which cost thousands of dollars, must be “street-legal” with features such as windshields, turn signals, headlights, seat belts and superior engines and brakes. They must be inspected and licensed by the Dalton Police Department to make sure they have all the required safety features.
The neighborhood must be checked out by both the Public Works Department and the police department, which will inspect the streets, looking at sight lines, traffic volume and other features to make sure it would be safe for the PTVs to operate there. Then the matter goes to the city Public Works Committee for a recommendation and finally to the City Council, which must give a request final approval.
PTVs would only be allowed on streets with no higher than a 25 mph speed limit, which eliminates many residential thoroughfares.
In some places PTV use has proven popular and successful, such as The Villages retirement community that traverses several counties in central Florida and Peachtree City outside of Atlanta. But those areas not only have flat terrain but were planned with PTVs in mind, with paths created especially for them.
Speaking of terrain, there are quite a few city neighborhoods here with hilly streets that aren't exactly golf cart-friendly.
These numerous drawbacks may be partly responsible for the lack of applications for PTV usage, but that could change.
The council members were thinking ahead when they passed the ordinance. Members were being responsive to constituents' requests and acted upon them. Plus, alternative transportation options are certainly worth trying, even if some are limited in usage as PTVs are.