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Council Votes To Allow Low-Speed, "Golf Cart"-Like Vehicle Regulations

Bill Rinehart
A low-speed vehicle driving in downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine.

Cincinnati City Council voted Wednesday on an ordinance setting up a three-year pilot program for low-speed vehicles. 

One operator describes them as "souped up" or "special" golf carts that are providing rides in the Downtown area.  

Council voted 8-1 to go forward with the pilot project. 

The vehicles usually travel at speeds up to 25 miles per hour and can carry five to seven passengers. Such vehicles are allowed under Ohio law.  

Interim Transportation and Engineering Director Don Gindling says the city will have 19 additional restrictions that he calls sensible to improve safety.

"Simple things like requiring windshield wipers, seatbelts, doors, operation procedures as far as how they can load and unload," Gindling said. "We are requiring them to stay within streets that are 25 miles an hour or less. We are restricting them right now basically to the CBD (Central Business District) and Over-the-Rhine."

Right now, there's one company providing free rides in the city and another is expected to start soon.

"These are vehicles not built to the standards of automobiles, under no circumstance will they provide the protection that automobiles provide," said Council Member Wendell Young. "In the event there is a crash, in my opinion, the likelihood of serious harm is pretty high. I also believe that people who utilize this form of transportation know that, or they should know that."

Council Member David Mann voted against the ordinance. He said he is concerned about safety aspects of the low-speed vehicles.