Get Ready to Hit the Streets Golf-Cart Style

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
Forget about drop-top convertibles. There’s a much cooler way to ride — and it’s becoming a popular mode of transportation in the Illinois Valley area.

Sure, they are slower and are typically the staple of any Florida retirement community, but golf carts are not just made for greens and grandparents anymore.

More small-town communities in and around the Illinois Valley are adopting ordinances that permit recreational vehicles on city streets.

But, before you get to shopping for golf cart lift kits and lighting accessories, be sure to check with your town for rules and regulations before burning any rubber on city streets.

Fees: For every one of these fun vehicles, there comes a price tag. Registration stickers around the Illinois Valley area for recreational vehicles can range from a few dollars to $100 depending on the city.

Not to mention the cost of buying a recreational vehicle alone. For golf carts, a bargain hunter can find a used cart for $1,000-$5,000 that works and rides the way most town require. But for those looking to buy new off the lot, golf carts and ATVs can cost in the upwards of $10,000 or more depending on the features that interest you.

Off-limit roads: State highways are typically banned from use by recreational vehicles. In most cases, riders can cross over state highways but cannot legally ride on state highways. 

In many towns, for example, Spring Valley — which has had an ordinance permitting ATV’s on city streets for more than a year — has specific intersections where recreational vehicles can cross state highways.

Requirements: While these requirements can change drastically from one town to the next, typically, riders must be licensed, the golf cart or all-terrain vehicle must have working headlights, taillights and turn signals and must have a horn.

Sometimes these vehicles must be equipped with working  seatbelts and riders must use them properly. Some towns, such as Henry in Marshall County, require all golf carts and recreational vehicles to be inspected yearly by a police officer.

“They’re supposed to have all the equipment — lights, brakes — that a car would have,” said Spring Valley mayor Walt Marini.

Police concerns: When riding recreational vehicles on the road started to spread from town to town, police officers as well as city officials had some concerns about safety. As it turns out, riders haven’t given officers much to worry about — at least in the Illinois Valley.

Putnam County sheriff’s office chief deputy Chad Haage said when the ordinance first went into affect there were younger people driving. 

In Granville, police chief Kevin Moore said the village has no ordinance on golf carts and village police haven’t had any issues. 

Recent changes: Within the last year, two La Salle County villages, Lostant and Tonica, adopted a golf cart ordinance.

Lostant, which approved the ordinance late last year, hasn’t had many people register for the required sticker according to Lostant deputy chief Randy Railey.

“As far as I know we haven’t had anyone that’s applied for the sticker,” Railey said.

Sales: There are plenty of places to shop for your new ride.

“Our sales in the towns that allow them have really gone up over the past few years,” said Brian Leone, of Leone’s Polaris in Peru. “When Hennepin passed its ordinance, we sold a lot.”

Although you can order a side-by-side or golf cart with all the bells and whistles, Leone said that generally isn’t the case for those looking to just zip around town.

“It all depends on the budget, but typically, they just want it to look good.” Leone said. “They opt for automotive paint job and aluminum wheels.”

Leone also said the bigger the better.

“Polaris has the (Ranger) Crew, which can hold six passengers — they can give their grandkids a ride in it that way. All you have to do is look at Hennepin at the Fourth of July, there are Rangers everywhere.”

To find out more: Want to know if you can ride your golf cart in town? Call your city or village hall for the answer. If you can, make sure you take note of any specific requirements including registration, and any required lighting features.

Source: News Tribune