Use of golf carts in St. Louis streets draws complaints

Regional News

ST. LOUIS – There is a golf cart rage across the St. Louis area, with people driving their carts around neighborhoods instead of their cars. They love them. There are also people who don’t. They want tighter regulations.

“I love it,” said Natalie Collora, a resident of The Hill neighborhood in south St. Louis and owner of a cart with three rows of seating.

“Ten years ago, there might have been seven or eight, now there’s seven to eight dozen of them in the neighborhood,” said St. Louis 10th Ward Alderman Joe Vollmer, who represents The Hill and also has a golf cart himself.

People take their dogs for cart rides there. They use them to pick the kids up from school. They drive them to their favorite restaurants and bars. During the pandemic, they’ve held golf cart birthday parades and even mobile religious events to include those who otherwise could not participate, Vollmer said.

“We’ll beep the horn. People will wave. It’s like a community,” Collura said.

People seemed happier to see you in a cart than in a car, she said. But from St. Louis to Webster Groves, to Wentzville to Millstadt, Illinois, not everyone is happy with the trend.

A recent post in a Facebook group chat quickly drew more than 300 comments with detractors threatening to “slash tires,” and others making claims of “drunk driving” and “driving on sidewalks.”

Jim Pope posted in favor of carts even though he doesn’t own one.

“If you’re sober, I feel like you should be able to ride whatever you want: golf cart, 4-wheeler, dirt bike, horse, donkey, whatever. It doesn’t matter,” he said.

The Facebook thread reminded him of what recently happened in Webster Groves: a debate about golf carts, with things getting a bit heated at times on social media. It led to changes.

Webster Groves leaders have since enacted a new ordinance requiring carts to have seat belts, working lights, and a permit after a one-time inspection.

Wentzville has also passed a cart ordinance.

In the City of St. Louis where carts are most popular from Soulard to The Hill to Tower Grove South to St. Louis Hills, there’s been no push to regulate beyond current state law.

“There’s been nothing brought up at the Board (of Alderman),” Vollmer said.

State law already covers golf carts as motor vehicles, according to Vollmer, meaning they can only be driven by sober, licensed drivers, and on streets with speed limits less than 30 mph.

Most carts go about as fast as bicycles: 8-20 miles an hour. Across the area, police have reported no major issues or injuries

“You’re in the open air. You feel like part of the community,” Vollmer said. “Other people know you’re part of the community because you have a golf cart. You’re not from 20 miles away. This is your neighborhood. People tend to be proud of their neighborhoods, especially this little neighborhood (The Hill).”

“There’s some things where we already have rules. Let’s leave the rules in place. There’s no reason to add more chaos,” Collora said.

Expect a honk, a wave, and a smile if you see her carting by.

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