Buggy City!

The US town where golf carts are kings of the road

Bob Warters's picture
Tue, 15 Oct 2002

When school’s out in Peachtree City, the town is over-run by golf buggies.

Since the age limit for driving these electric carts has been reduced to 15, this suburb, 30 miles from Atlanta, has suddenly taken on the look of a golf course stampede when the bell rings at McIntosh High School at 3.20pm every weekday.

Of the 1500 students about 170 of them drive a buggy to school along the paths and jogging and cycle tracks of this 21st century community. And it’s causing a problem.

The school is refusing to create special parking for them so the tendency is for them to clog the nearby roadsides, where homes and business are complaining.

"To have a cart parked in the student car park is a massive safety issue," Principal Greg Stillions, told the Chicago Tribune. "Some people don't think 15-year-olds should be driving anything. If they are not mature enough to drive a car, how can they handle a motorised golf cart in the streets? We already have enough fender benders. I don't want to have to call a parent to say their child has been hit by a golf cart in the parking lot."

Every day it’s apparently like a scene from the 1967 sci-fi TV drama ‘The Prisoner’ with children as young as 12 (if accompanied by an adult) buzzing around the town’s 80 miles of asphalt roadways.

Though the golf carts help Peachtree City cut down on air pollution, the 34,000 residents fear the arrival of major department stores, will make it a traffic bottleneck.

The Mayor reckons that more than 9,000 golf carts – most of them built by the giants EZ-Go and Club Car at nearby Augusta, are used in the city, together with about 150 sophisticated egg-shaped Global Electric Motorcars (GEMs).

Hundreds of parents also deliver their children on the £3,000 golf buggies to baseball games and ballet lessons, travelling along paved paths bridges and tunnels that keep them away from major highways. At up to 20 mph, residents run errands, shop and go out to dinner without taking their car out of the garage.

They even drive directly to one of the three golf courses in the town.

Now officials are considering ways to ease the traffic congestion at the school, which will add 300 students next year.

"We are considering building a separate car parking for golf carts," said Mr Stillions. "That will meet the needs of the families, and businesses can stop complaining."



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