Study continues on non-traditional vehicles

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Police Chief Will Balling provided a presentation Thursday afternoon to the Non-Traditional Vehicle Use Ad Hoc Committee on the initial legislation presented to the Sidney City Council in 2020 on non-traditional vehicles on Sidney streets.

The committee is studying the potential use of golf carts or other non-traditional vehicles on Sidney city roadways to provide a recommendation to the Sidney City Council on the matter. The purpose of Thursday’s meeting was to hear Balling’s presentation, review the ordinance he covered and to consider the moratorium request on enforcement of non-traditional vehicle use on public roadways.

Currently, low speed, non-traditional vehicles are not permitted to operate on Sidney city streets. At this time, violators are being warned by Sidney Police and will begin to be cited starting May 1.

At the top of the meeting, Chairman Randy Rose said after the committee’s Wednesday meeting it occurred to him they had put an emphasis on the use of golf carts, but the purpose of the committee is to study the use of non-traditional vehicles. He also said everyone’s opinion should be respected.

In 2020, Sidney City Council considered legislation to permit the use of certain non-traditional vehicles on public streets. The legislation was tabled in September 2020 and tabled indefinitely at the March 22, 2021, council meeting.

During Balling’s presentation, he told committee members in 2017, the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) made it illegal to drive low‐speed, under‐speed, utility vehicles, and mini trucks without a city ordinance permitting it. The topic came forth in Sidney, he noted, after residents and local businesses inquired about the use of such vehicles on city streets.

Balling then provided examples of these four main type of vehicles: slow-speed vehicles resemble very small three‐ or four‐wheeled motor vehicles that travel 25 mph or less; under‐speed vehicles are three‐ or four‐wheeled vehicles, commonly known as a golf cart; utility vehicles are self‐propelled vehicles designed with a bed used to haul around equipment, commonly known as gators; and mini trucks are vehicles with four wheels, propelled by an electric motor.

He then outlined the language in ORC 4511.214, with an emphasis on the following points:

• No person should operate those vehicles to streets and highways having an established speed limit not greater than 35 mph;

• No person shall operate an under‐speed vehicle or mini truck upon any street or highway except as follows;

— Upon a street or highway having an established speed limit not greater than 35 miles per hour and only upon such streets or highways where a local authority has granted permission for such operations in accordance with the ORC.

After looking at several other area cities and seeking to find a balance between individual requests and safety, Balling said city staff recommended the ordinance list vehicles to include the following equipment: at least one headlight, at least one rear tail light, adequate brakes, muffler system, license plate issued by the state of Ohio, light to illuminate the rear license plate, brake light, working horn, review mirror, windshield, windshield wiper (currently being discussed), working turn signals, emergency brake and a seat belt for each occupant. Staff also recommended drivers should have a valid driver’s license, and travel on roads in the map he presented of Sidney which prohibits county roads, state Routes, highways, (the Interstate) or other areas of busy traffic and commercial industry.

Committee members questioned various aspects, such as the need for a windshield wiper or even a windshield, type of infant seating, a license plate and a light for the plate and prohibited areas of travel. Numerous times Rose repeated the strong opinions he has heard from people with a resistance to a required license plate on these vehicles, or golf carts, specifically. He pointed to issues of the unnecessary expense, where to place it, and if a light if required, the cart may have to be re-wired. Balling asked how often people use these vehicles after dark. If they are used at night, he said an inexpensive light could be temporarily attached during evening hours near the plate.

With the meeting drawing close to two-hours long, it was adjourned. The next teleconference meeting is set for Monday, April 26, 2021, at 3 p.m.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.