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Golf cart committee recommends changes to city traffic code

The Park Rapids City Council on Tuesday took steps to approve proposed amendments to the existing traffic code to allow golf carts and certain ATV's to operate on city streets.

A special committee consisting of chairperson Butch DeLaHunt and members Kurt Hanson, Andy Krueber, Molly Luther, Thomas Petschl, Maria Pretzer and Ed Ranson was appointed by the city to study motorized recreational vehicles in the city. The committee recommends changes to the existing ordinance, regulations and conditions that govern operation of these vehicles.

On Tuesday, the council voted in favor of the following actions:

• Recall the second reading of the ordinance amending the Park Rapids City Code of Ordinances pertaining to recreational vehicles and motorized golf carts.

• Authorize staff to prepare a new revised Traffic Code Ordinance based on the recommendations of the appointed Transportation Committee and the City Council.

• Extend the time frame for the issued Temporary Golf Cart Permits until such time as the amended Traffic Code Ordinance takes effect.

According to the draft traffic code presented by chairperson DeLaHunt at Tuesday's meeting, if approved by the council, the new code would require motorized golf carts and Class 2 All-Terrain Vehicles to have a permit to operate on city streets. The applicant would need to possess a current valid driver's license.

Class 2 ATVs are most commonly called side-by-sides and does not include the Class 1 four-wheeler. Under the current and proposed ordinances motorized golf carts and Class 2 ATVs are permitted to operate only on city streets, not state or federal highways such as U.S. 71 and State Highway 34, except to cross at designated intersections.

If the new ordinance is approved, restrictions would include operating only from sunrise to sunset, unless vehicles are equipped with original factory-installed headlights, taillights, and rear-facing brake lights.

Other vehicles to consider in the ordinance include electric personal assistive mobility devices which include wheelchairs, scooters and tricycles used by persons with disabilities as a substitute for walking. A person operating these devices has the rights and responsibilities of a pedestrian. They must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on foot and yield to bicycles on a bicycle path. These vehicles would be required to operate on sidewalks and not on the streets.

The committee looked at information from state statutes, the League of Minnesota Cities Model Ordinance, Park Rapids existing Recreational Vehicle Ordinance and Traffic Code Ordinance, recreational vehicle ordinances of numerous Minnesota cities, and the Department of Natural Resources rules and regulations.

The City Council will now consider the committee recommendations address the ordinance revisions at upcoming meetings.

The next council meeting is Tuesday, June 27, 6 p.m. in the lower level of the public library.