Cruising Zionsville in Your Golf Carts: 101
As we hope to emerge from our social distancing status yet this spring and make our way to downtown Zionsville to enjoy the shops and good eats, or to support local restaurants by picking up some carry out, we may feel inclined to cruise down in our golf cart, should we be in possession of one. But before you do, let’s go over the town’s ordinance and make sure that everyone knows the rules so that everyone has a safe inaugural cart season, whether you’re driving a golf cart, riding on one or sharing the road with one.
The Logic Behind the Golf Cart Ordinance
Zionsville Town Councilor Jason Plunkett first proposed the ordinance to his fellow councilors and to the Zionsville Chief of Police Rob Knox, prior to its passing and going into effect this year. Plunkett shared some of the back story on why the ordinance was proposed in the first place.
“With Holiday Farms–a golfing community—coming online, I thought it was important to make sure that the town eliminated any confusion on urban versus rural districts in Zionsville as it relates to the rules on golf carts,” Plunkett emphasized. “The [golf cart] ordinance also ensures that ZPD officers have all the tools available to them to enforce the rules for the safety of golf cart owners as well as for the motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists who are sharing the roads.”
Plunkett added, “I think it’s important for people to think about how the ordinance can help alleviate the parking issue in downtown Zionsville. If you put your neighbors on the back of your golf cart—transporting no more than the number of occupants your golf cart was designed for—and drive over to frequent a restaurant, you’re only taking one [parking] spot instead of two. And honestly, I think having to share the roads with golf carts will slow people down, especially on the brick and side streets.”
The town council used part of neighboring Whitestown’s golf cart ordinance when drafting Zionsville’s, along with parts of Carmel’s and other golf cart ordinances from around the state of Indiana.
“We didn’t reinvent anything,” Plunkett stated. “It was important, from my perspective, to keep it simple and to approach [the ordinance] with common sense so that people understand the rules and expectations. I think most people understand that you shouldn’t be traveling [on a golf cart] on state highways or areas where other vehicles are going 40-plus miles per hour.”
How Will the Ordinance Be Enforced?
It is important to note that the use of a golf cart on any pathways, trails and/or sidewalks is not permitted. Any infractions of the golf cart ordinance are subject to citations issued by ZPD and monetary fines as defined in the ordinance.
Registered golf carts are allowed to operate and park on Main Street and any of the approved adjoining streets. Golf carts may be parked in any of the designated public parking spaces—including on Main Street.
Sorry, Mom and Dad; if your 15-year-old jumps on the golf cart for a joyride anywhere in urban Zionsville, you will be subject to a fine.
Per the town’s golf cart ordinance:
The first violation is subject to a $150 fine and $250 for the second. A third and every offense after that is subject to a $500 fine and/or revocation of your permit.
Chief Knox explained that as the warm weather returns and ZPD begins to see more golf carts on the streets, the department will likely give a bit of a grace period before writing citations as people become familiar with the requirements and restrictions.
“It will be at the officer’s discretion as to whether or not he/she issues a citation or a warning,” Knox said. “It is my hope that the ordinance will be strictly enforced because the message needs to get out there that this [topic] is very serious. A golf cart is not like a regular vehicle, and people can get hurt.”
How to Apply for a Golf Cart Permit
“The registration process is very simple,” Knox stated. “You’ll have to come into the [police] station to pick up the permit. And you’ll need to fill out a registration form with a description of the golf cart along with the VIN in order to complete the registration.”
Knox emphasized, “As motorists, we should be watching out for the kids running in between cars, pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, etc. Now we need to add golf carts to that list as we practice being cautious drivers.”
What Kind of Insurance Do You Need for Your Golf Cart?
I asked Keith Pemberton at Pemberton Insurance Group in Zionsville about how one goes about insuring a golf cart.
“Once your golf cart leaves your property, I would recommend liability limits on its own policy,” Pemberton explained. “The liability limit options can vary. Usually, a policy for a golf cart is around $110 to $150 a year to insure and mimics an auto policy. You can add comprehensive and collision on the policy as well.”
Pemberton recommended contacting your insurance agent for specific details about coverage and discuss selecting the liability limits in coordination with local laws.
“Each company has different underwriting requirements,” Pemberton said. “Your agent will be able to go over the policy details with you, but the important thing is to understand what you are covered for and what you are not.”
If you would like to contact Keith Pemberton, visit his website at pembertongrp.com.
To read the Town of Zionsville’s Golf Cart Ordinance in its entirety, visit zionsville-in.gov/533/Golf-Cart-Registration.
In the interest of public safety, golf carts are prohibited on certain streets, including major thoroughfares such as 106th Street, 116th Street, County Road 300 South, West 96th Street, County Road 975 East, Zionsville Road, Whitestown Road, Willow Road, Willow Street and Ford Road, in addition to other streets.
What Does the Town’s Golf Cart Ordinance Say?
The Zionsville Town Council voted 5-0 and passed an ordinance permitting and regulating golf carts on approved streets within the urban district of Zionsville last September that became effective Jan. 1, 2020. (See map of urban versus rural Zionsville)
– You must have a valid operator’s permit.
– You must have proof of financial responsibility (insurance on the cart).
– You may only operate the golf cart on approved streets (see map of approved urban streets).
– All carts must have the minimum safety equipment: headlights and brake lights, rearview mirror, slow-moving vehicle sign and horn.
– Driver must obey all driver’s licensing requirements and Indiana traffic laws and yield to the right of way of pedestrians and bicycles.
– Driver must have a valid registration permit issued by ZPD ($100 annual fee per cart). The permit must be visible on the left side of the cart’s window.