Golf Carts as Transportation

Designing roads for low-speed vehicles like golf carts can make getting around safer and easier for seniors.

September 5, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


The Villages, Florida

Peter Titmuss / Shutterstock

There is much for urbanists to critique about Florida's master-planned community the Villages–currently "the fastest-growing metropolitan statistical area in the country." But one thing the Imagineer-designed retirement community got right, argues Alissa Walker, is their enthusiastic support of golf carts as a transportation mode.

"Those golf carts, in fact, make a lot of urban-transportation planners salivate. By some estimates, one-third of all trips in the Villages are taken in them. They run on electricity, or on a little bit of non-ethanol gasoline (dispensed from old-timey pumps, even). They are lightweight and barely pollute. They’re not supposed to go faster than 20 mph, and they don’t kill many people the way cars do (although it does happen)."

Not that the Villages is any kind of car-free utopia. Ryan Erisman, author of Inside the Bubble: The Complete Guide to Florida’s Most Popular Community, says "[m]ost people still have cars" which they use for any trips outside the immediate neighborhood. Meanwhile, the Villages has no public transit to speak of. "Of course we should be working, in general, to put everything closer together so nobody has to get behind the wheel at the age of 95 — or 55, for that matter." But the concept of actively designing for golf carts or other slow-speed vehicles could go a long way toward making cities more friendly to seniors and the general population. 

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