MYRTLE BEACH — If golf cart owners in Seagate Village get their way, they soon will be able to ride safely from their neighborhood across Kings Highway to Myrtle Beach State Park.
To do that, they would need to be able to ride along bicycle lanes and paths – which is not legal under state law. No motor vehicles are allowed to operate on bike lanes anywhere in the state.
After hearing complaints from Seagate residents, Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Myrtle Beach) said he plans to file a bill in January that would enable municipalities to choose to allow golf carts to operate on those bike lanes.
“We want to be a golf cart community,” said Mary Cunningham, Seagate resident and leader of the Gator Golf Cart Club. “It’s fun. You’re in the open air. Everything is within four miles for us here [on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base property]. … We don’t have to start our cars and burn gas. It’s economical and ecologically [conscious].”
Clemmons has worked with Seagate residents for a few months, sharing with them the text of an amendment that he said he plans to introduce during the next legislative session.
According to a draft of the bill, Clemmons is seeking to amend the code dealing with issuing golf cart permits to “provide that during daylight hours only, a municipality may allow a golf cart to be operated along bicycle lanes and bicycle paths located within the municipality.”
As the law stands, those riding golf carts from Seagate Village are able to ride through the Food Lion parking lot to Kings Highway but they are not allowed to use the bike lane on the east side of the road or ride in the bike lane along the west side of Kings Highway to the park’s main entrance, Cunningham said.
If officers catch someone in a golf cart on the bike lane, they would face a $133 fine, said Myrtle Beach Municipal Court clerk Shelly Askey. She said she was not aware of any instances in which golf cart riders were cited for driving in bike lanes or paths.
Myrtle Beach city manager Tom Leath said he’s aware of Clemmons’ bill and the Seagate residents’ desire to be allowed to ride their golf carts in the bike lanes, though he said the city has not yet received a formal request to make changes in Myrtle Beach.
“If the state passes the law we’d have to make a decision if we would want to allow golf carts on certain portions of the bike paths,” Leath said. “I, for one, am pro-golf cart. I think they are great.”
David Hall, owner of The Bicycle Fix in The Market Common and a bicyclist, said he doesn’t think it would be safe for anyone to have golf carts on bike paths and lanes.
“I’m against that,” he said. “People on bikes and walking and running have a hard enough time staying out of each others way. I definitely think that’s a safety issue.”
Cunningham said she has asked Clemmons to include a stipulation that golf cart drivers yield to bicyclists and joggers on the paths.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” she said. “Golf cart drivers are a friendly bunch.”
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.