Golfcart Ferries Considered for-Downtown Leesburg

The long walk to downtown Leesburg from public parking lots could become a quick golf cart ride.

Leesburg Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to initiate a staff study about how and where the town might allow golf carts on public streets. The move was inspired when a transportation business, Cartwheels, asked if it could start ferrying visitors downtown from the far-flung Liberty and Pennington lots.

According to Mayor Kelly Burk, who saw some of the business’s proposal, the golf carts would be handicap accessible, covered from the weather and equipped with windshield wipers and lights.

Staff recommended that council vote against any study of the proposal.

“The primary concern is congestion downtown … and where they would drop off,” Director of Capital Projects Renee LaFollette said.

The golf carts would only be permitted on roads with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, though they could cross intersections with higher-speed traffic. Council could limit which streets the golf carts could use, drop-off spots and hours of operation.

On Monday night, several council members expressed concern, especially for safety and a lack of official vehicle registration.

“I don’t think that it’s helpful for what we’re trying to achieve downtown,” said Councilman Tom Dunn, who along with Councilman Ron Campbell didn’t support the measure during Monday night’s work session. “When people are speeding by in a golf cart, they aren’t helping those other shops and locations … We definitely don’t need other vehicles on the streets.”

However, other council members were intrigued by the potential for parking relief and more foot traffic.

“I’ve been to so many cities where they have these already,” Mayor Kelly Burk said. “They do bring people downtown.”

The study, passed as part of Tuesday’s consent agenda, will provide council with an impact study on traffic and economics, as well as proposed streets where the golf carts could drive and spots where they could drop off visitors. Council will make a final vote on a later date.