No Golf Carts on Midland Trace Trail

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We, the undersigned citizens of Westfield call upon the Westfield City Council  to rescind Ordinance 18-50, https://www.westfield.in.gov/egov/apps/document/center.egov?view=detail&id=6089 which allows the use of golf carts on the Midland Trace Trail.

Currently the City of Westfield is temporarily allowing golf carts on the Midland Trace Trail (MITT).  With plans, according to one city council member and Mayor Cook, to allow golf carts on the Monon Trail (MNT) as well. The intent is for these high-speed motorized vehicles to become a permanent fixture on the trails. The opportunity for public comment and to present this petition will be at the Westfield City Council meeting Monday, August 10th, 2020, at 7:00PM.

Use of Golf Carts on the trails should not be allowed for the following reasons:

1. Golf carts can weigh up to 1,535 lbs. for an electric powered 6-person cart. “Green” battery powered golf carts weight up to 200 lbs. more than gas powered carts due to the weight of the battery. Golf carts are 4 ft wide and can be from 6 ft to 10.5 ft in length and can travel from 15-25 mph. Short turn radii and sight distances on the trails are not safe or appropriate for these vehicles. Due to their large size, weight and higher speeds, the operation of golf carts presents serious hazards to bicyclists, pedestrians, and other exercisers. 

2. At 12 feet in width the MITT has sections that contain some of the narrowest of paved trails in Hamilton County. It has 8 blind curves between Sanders Glen Assisted Living, 334 S Cherry St and Carey Road. It has an island in the middle at the split to Simon Moon Park and the Central Midland Trace Trail portion. This island is on one of the blind turns and would be tight for larger golf carts. It is not even clear whether this constitutes a “circle” and how it is to be negotiated.  See the picture below of a golf cart rounding a blind curve approaching this location, taken on July 17, 2020. Please note the golf cart is not in the right-hand lane but straddling the middle of the trail and into the left lane. This vehicle had not been inspected by the Westfield Police Department as mandated in Ordinance No 18-50.

3. Our trails were built for bicyclists and pedestrians for exercise and outdoor enjoyment. Gas powered golf carts pollute with carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and particulate emissions. See the EPA rule at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2008-10-08/pdf/E8-21093.pdf Inhalation of such fumes by exercisers taking deep breaths can provoke asthma attacks, generate airway inflammation and disease, and are generally noxious to all.

4. The current Westfield ordinance mandates that all golf carts on the pedestrian trails be inspected by the Westfield Police Department. There are a significant numbers of golf carts on the trail that have not been inspected, and a City of Westfield councilmember has stated that underage drivers are also an issue.

5. The MITT and MNT are supposed to be a throughways bringing tourism to Indiana and health benefits to nearby residents. An attraction of the MNT is its long uninterrupted length, currently 25 miles running from Sheridan, through Westfield, Carmel, Broadripple and ending in downtown Indiandianapolis where it connects directly with the Cultural Trail. The cities of Carmel and Noblesville do not allow golf carts on their pedestrian and bike trails for good reason and both will cite golf cart drivers on their portion of these trails. The creation of noxious and hazardous conditions, as noted above, on one small section of the trail will create confusion and hazards for travelers, diminish the attraction of Indiana as a tourist destination, and diminish the value of  the trails for residents who exercise on them.

Allowing golf carts on the MITT will create a significant hazard for all and as Westfield grows there will be more golf carts on the trail if Ordinance No 18-50 is not rescinded. A more appropriate solution would be to improve 171st Street and add a golf cart lane. This would separate motorized vehicles from pedestrians and allow the Westfield Police Department to monitor golf cart usage and compliance and our trails would be freed from the concerns raised above.

Please sign this petition to prevent the City of Westfield from permanently allowing golf carts on pathways developed for bicyclists and pedestrians.