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Sarasota News Leader January 10, 2014 OPINION It is frightening to see someone saunter across seven lanes of traffic on Bee Ridge Road, for example (although, in fairness, this recklessness is engaged in most often by individuals carrying a six-pack of beer or similar libation, apparently not their first of the day). Page 86 for the practice appears to be the Amish and Mennonite community of Pinecraft along Bahia Vista Street in Sarasota and its environs. While the Amish — and, to a lesser degree, the Mennonites — are known for eschewing the trappings of modern society, there have been But another problem is growing that impacts notable exceptions enjoyed by local members seasonal traffic on the Suncoast, and that is of these communities. Cell phones, for examthe use of golf carts ple, are ubiquitous, as and similar low-speed are electric-powered vehicles on public Combine the slow speeds of golf bicycles. streets. carts, the minimal visibility, the lack of Apparently, it was a There are three con- caution exhibited by the operators and the matter of inevitability ditions that must be interaction with heavy traffic traveling at that golf carts would met before a low- much higher speeds, and one has a perfect be adopted next as speed vehicle, defined recipe for disaster. a "simple" mode of by statute as those transportation. that travel between 20 and 25 mph, may operate legally on pub- In the Pinecraft community and surrounding lic streets: The posted speed limit must be 35 area, golf carts have been observed on many mph or less; the local government must spe- public streets, as well on sidewalks and makcifically designate that roadway as eligible ing use of pedestrian crosswalks. for use by low-speed vehicles; and the vehicles must be registered like any other motor When we asked some Amish golf cart drivers vehicle and have a rearview mirror, effective if they were aware the practice was illegal, brakes, windshield, headlights and taillights they voiced essentially the same response: "I that conform to state standards. Most golf don't care." carts, which are designed for use only on golf But they should. A nonconforming low-speed courses, are unable to meet the standards for vehicle is a greater hazard to traffic safety than on-street use. errant bicyclists and pedestrians. Perhaps it is Nonetheless, there has been an alarming for that reason that the County Commission increase in the number of residents using golf has never designated any roadway in the carts and other low-speed vehicles on county county for the legal use of low-speed vehicles. roadways, despite the practice being illegal. There simply are too many motor vehicles on the thoroughfares now, many traveling at Although examples can be found almost speeds much higher than those that could be everywhere in the county, "Ground Zero" attained by low-speed vehicles.

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