Why Golf Carts Could Quietly Revolutionize Transportation

More communities are catching on to the benefits of golf carts as a safe, low-emissions mode of transport for neighborhood trips.

2 minute read

August 16, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Line of colorful golf carts parked outside restaurant in The Villages, Florida

Golf carts in The Villages, Florida. | Jillian Cain Photography / Golf carts

In a piece extolling the virtues of golf carts, David Zipper argues that the diminutive vehicle could play a “starring role” in “the next chapter of urban mobility.”

According to a 2015 Harvard study, a “souped up golf cart” offered the most transformative option for future transportation. “Indeed, these puttering vehicles, most often associated with leisure and affluence, just might provide a pathway toward safe, affordable, and entertaining rides for the masses.”

Zipper outlines the benefits of golf carts: “Carts can be either gas-powered or electric, typically costing around $10,000, give or take a few thousand. They generally weigh 500 to 1,100 pounds and travel under 20 mph, making them significantly lighter and slower than a car. A roof provides protection from the sun; an optional plastic enclosure can keep users dry when it rains.”

As an example, Peachtree City outside Atlanta features 100 miles of paths designed for golf carts, pedestrians, and people on bikes or scooters that connect the community’s various destinations and have prompted many residents to replace short car trips with cart rides. Last year, Alissa Walker highlighted the benefits of golf carts in Florida’s The Villages, a 55-plus community whore residents rely on golf carts for many daily errands.

According to Peachtree City Mayor Kim Learnard, “[Golf carts] provide accessibility for residents who aren’t able to drive; they enable local shops to expand parking capacity (golf cart spots are significantly smaller than those for cars); the electric models are quiet and don’t pollute.” Learnard even believes golf carts lead to more social interactions between neighbors.

Zipper acknowledges the drawbacks of golf carts, such as their vulnerability to extreme weather conditions. “But golf carts could be a promising form factor for many places that lack the density to support high-frequency transit service.” As more people work from home, Zipper contends that golf carts and other types of micromobility devices can become a useful transportation mode for short neighborhood trips.

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