A Capacity Crowd for Area Golf Cart Study
By Diane M. Loeffler
More than 1200 people crowded into Community Hall on January 30 for the Golf Cart Mobility Study meeting. Some sat or stood in the main hall, others were in adjacent rooms where they might not be able to see everything, but they were able to hear the proceedings. Since it is important to abide by fire safety maximums, hundreds more had to be turned away. The sheer numbers of people in attendance made it clear that golf carts are important in our area. The next meeting on the topic will be in April.
The consulting firm of Kimley-Horn is preparing a proposal for Hillsborough County. Clarence Eng was the primary presenter at the January meeting. He says, “The project’s goals are to improve safety, enhance mobility, connect residents and local businesses and to establish priorities.” During the presentation, the speakers discussed Florida Statute 316.212, the 1984 and 1987 County resolutions for golf cart use, and The Greater Sun City Center Golf Cart Driver Handbook.
Clarence Eng says they looked at communities that were the most comparable to our area in their use of golf carts. In Florida, these were The Villages, Dunedin, Stuart and Leesburg. They also looked at Peachtree, Georgia and Coachella Valley, California.
According to Kimley-Horn’s study, 33,026 vehicles travel on State Route 674 each day; 10,400 on North Pebble Beach; 12,147 on 19th Avenue N.E.; 14,600 on U.S. 301 and 8,722 on Cypress Village Boulevard. For each of these areas, the consulting firm listed ways to improve these areas for golf carts, bicyclists and pedestrians.
The study is looking into the pedestrian sidewalk network, golf cart designated roads and golf cart crossings along SR 674 and US 301.
The purpose of the meeting was to build on the information already received from an online survey that was available from December 14, 2018 until January 8, 2019. Survey takers reported that 41% of the time their primary travel mode was a personal car, 56% of the time it was a golf cart and 3% of the time it was another mode (walk, bike, transit, etc.). The secondary travel mode was personal car 50%, golf cart 37% and other 13%.
Most primary trips are for shopping (44%) and recreation (30%). More than half of the survey takers use their carts for primary trips 4 to 7 days a week and 62% of the trips are taken between noon and 4 p.m. Most secondary trips are for shopping and social purposes between noon and 4 p.m.
Most survey takers agree or strongly agree that they feel safe traveling on local roads and crossing state roads, there are safe accessibility options to destinations, and there are enough golf cart facilities to use in Sun City Center. When asked about feeling safe on Cypress Village Boulevard and / or 19th Avenue NE and for adequate bicycle facilities, the results were mixed.
Kimley-Horn plans to draft mobility concepts this March, hold a second community workshop in April, complete the final mobility concept in May and have the report done in July. Specific dates have not yet been set. Be sure to subscribe to updates at www.newsofscc.com.
Attendee concerns fit into three general categories: safety, mobility, and connectivity. Specific suggestions in each category included:
Safety — Enforcement of the road rules for cars and carts, enforcement of speed limits for cars and carts, path resurfacing, clarification of signage along all paths and sidewalks, additional street and path lighting, golf cart registration, and golf cart safety instruction class.
Mobility — Extended golf cart operation hours with proper equipment, improved signal timing for golf carts at crossings, improved bicycle facilities, connections to existing transit, and improved and additional crossings on SR-674.
Connectivity — Preference for multi-use paths; path expansion along the north and south side of SR-674; and access to restaurants, offices, and retail on both sides of SR-674.
When asked for golf cart path alternatives and improvements, responses were split: 31% advocated for improved crossings, 33% for multi-use paths, 23% for wider sidewalks, and 13% for a reduced speed limit.
For more information, contact Manuel Santos by email “SantosM@HillsboroughCounty.Org” or phone 813.307.1921.
Photo by John Wakeman