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.

Monday, August 15, 2022 in Slate

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

View of 110 freeway with downtown Los Angeles buildings in background.

LA Freeway Ramp ‘Quietly Canceled’

A 2018 lawsuit forced Metro and Caltrans to do full environmental reviews of the project, leading to its cancellation.

February 29, 2024 - Streetsblog LA

Blue and white Pittsburgh bike share bikes lined up at a station with a red city bus on street in background.

Micromobility Operators Call for Better Links to Transit

For shared mobility to succeed, systems must tap into the connectivity and funding potential offered by closer collaboration with public transit.

4 hours ago - GovTech

New York MTA Bus

Retaining Transit Workers Is About More Than Wages

An analysis of California transit employees found a high rate of burnout among operators who face unpredictable work schedules, high housing costs, and occasional violence.

5 hours ago - Streetsblog California

View of Hollywood Reservoir with palm trees in foreground and Los Angeles neighobrhoods in background.

California's Stormwater Potential

A new study reveals that if California could collect and treat more stormwater in cities, it could provide enough water to supply a quarter of the state’s urban population.

7 hours ago - Cal Matters

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.