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Date of Issue: September 23, 2009

On the books

Florida law defines “low-speed vehicle” as “any four-wheeled vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 mph but not greater than 25 mph, including neighborhood electric vehicles. Low-speed vehicles must comply with … safety standards.”

Florida law allows a “low-speed vehicle” to be “operated only on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less. This does not prohibit a low-speed vehicle or mini-truck from crossing a road or street at an intersection where the road or street has a posted speed limit of more than 35 mph.”

Florida law defines a “golf cart” as “a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 mph.”

State law prohibits the operation of “golf carts” on roads unless “a county or a municipal street … has been designated by a municipality for use by golf carts. Upon a determination that golf carts may be safely operated on a designated road or street, the responsible governmental entity shall post appropriate signs to indicate that such operation is allowed.”

City easing up on carts, low-speed vehicles

By Lisa Neff
Islander Reporter

Low-speed drivers, start your engines.

Bradenton Beach city commissioners agreed last week that they do not want to pursue an ordinance banning low-speed vehicles within city limits.

Additionally, commissioners said they wanted to explore lifting a prohibition against golf carts — which go slower than low-speed vehicles — in certain areas of Bradenton Beach.

The decisions were reached during a Sept. 17 meeting.

City attorney Ricinda Perry introduced the topic, explaining that she and Police Chief Sam Speciale were looking into what ordinances needed to be revised or enacted to allow a low-speed vehicle to transport people from the Coquina Beach parking lot to their workplaces in the Bridge Street area.

While researching ordinances and state statutes, Perry said she learned that low-speed vehicles that meet certain requirements are legal on Florida roads where the speed limit is 35 mph or less. That means state law allows low-speed vehicles in Bradenton Beach except for Gulf Drive from the north end of Coquina Beach to the bridge to Longboat Key.

If the commission wanted to prohibit LSVs, an ordinance would be required, Perry said. Then she asked what avenue the commission wants to take.

Commissioners looked to Speciale, who in the past has raised concerns about slower, smaller vehicles traveling in Bradenton Beach’s sometimes bustling traffic.

“The only concern that I had regarding these is the safety issue,” Speciale said, adding that his apprehension was more with golf carts than LSVs. “These LSVs are nice little trucks. I know they are eco-friendly. I have no issue … if the commission doesn’t.”

Golf carts, however, still should be restricted, Speciale advised.

“Golf carts don’t go 35 mph,” he said. “The LSV is a totally different animal” from the golf cart.

He suggested that if the commission wants to ease restrictions, then perhaps the carts could be allowed in the city’s historic district — the downtown area around Bridge Street — and the “avenues” just south of the Sandpiper Resort community.

Early in the meeting, commissioners also heard an appeal from Lauren Sato of Beach Bums in Anna Maria, which rents LSVs and carts.

“Bradenton Beach is a vibrant, eclectic area,” she said, and it presently is off-limits to vacationers cruising the Island on LSVs.

Sato asked commissioners to ease restrictions.

After some discussion, commissioners agreed not to pursue an ordinance prohibiting LSVs and to have Perry and Speciale work on a plan to allow golf carts in the historic district and side streets on the north end of the city.

In other business Sept. 17, commissioners:

• Approved payment of a $5,750.01 invoice from M.T. Causley for building department services.

• Approved payment of a $3,378.24 invoice for July and a $9,208.20 invoice for August from city attorney Ricinda Perry.

• Approved special event applications from the Anna Maria Island Privateers for Thieves Markets on a number of Saturdays and a Christmas parade and party on Dec. 12.

• Adopted a resolution enacting a policy related to the H1N1 flu virus and sending home sick employees.

• Approved $345 in expenses for public works director Tom Woodard to attend the Florida Stormwater Association conference in Tampa Dec. 3-4.

• Discussed a growing concern with delinquent sanitation and stormwater accounts, which will be continued at a workshop meeting at 1 p.m. Oct. 6.

• Authorized the city attorney to review a county ordinance on panhandling for consideration in the city.

• Agreed to hold a workshop meeting to discuss updating the city’s Web site at 1 p.m. Oct. 20.