Savannah discusses low-speed vehicle ordinance - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tourism panel wants ordinance for low-speed vehicles

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

There's all kinds of transportation downtown, from carriages to trolleys to pedicabs, and just last year, Savannah Hopper began running shuttle services and renting low-speed vehicles in and around the historic district.

However, there's no law in the city governing this new transportation and now that the Tourism Advisory Committee wants to come up with an ordinance regulating them, the new hopper is worried they're going to be on the chopping block.

The Bay Street company rents the low-speed vehicles, or drivers will come pick you up on one of their three motorized carts also known as golf carts.

Vicki Montgomery is in town with her family and loves the service, "We just got here late last night and we've already used it three times!"

Visitors like Vicki, and even hotel staff we talked to, have nothing but great things to say about the service.  The problem is, it's technically against Georgia state law, so the Tourism Advisory Committee is working to make a city law regulating them.

Bridget Lidy with TAC says, "State law dictates that local jurisdictions have to have enabling legislation at the local level to allow motorized carts, and the City of Savannah does not have that local legislation, therefore, it's a violation of state law and there are safety issues involved with it."

Savannah Hopper employs 18 drivers and they say if the city decides to pass an ordinance to ban the carts on city streets, it could mean cutting more than half their staff.

Right now the city is looking into other local jurisdictions' laws like Roswell's, Richmond Hill's, St. Mary's and even Pooler's ordinances on how they regulate low speed vehicles and motorized carts.

Visitors like Vicki just rave about it, "It's a nice way to leave your car parked where you are staying, and get around town easily and inexpensively."

However, the city says it comes down to public safety.

Lidy says, "We need to protect visitors and residents who use public streets."

There is a public meeting at the Coastal Georgia Center on Fahm Street on Wednesday at 6 p.m. to talk about the ordinance.  Savannah Hopper is also offering free rides to the meeting.

The public can comment on the cart ordinance plan at www.savannahga.gov/commentoncarts

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