- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

TOLONO, Ill. (AP) - It’s not unusual to see residents zipping around on golf carts in many small Illinois communities, as local officials increasingly adopt ordinances to accommodate the popular vehicles.

Golf carts are getting the green light as an alternative to cars and trucks, which many people say guzzle too much gas and are less convenient for quick trips, the (Champaign) News-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1DoLp2z ) reported Sunday. Most communities with 10,000 or fewer residents in Champaign, Douglas, Piatt and Vermilion counties have ordinances allowing golf carts on local streets, the newspaper says.

Sherry and Mark Miller of Tolono, in Champaign County, are frequently spotted with their two children in their cart - painted black with orange flames - as they head to the ballpark, around the neighborhood or to a local store.

Sherry Miller says it’s easier to hop in the cart than to load kids and sports equipment into the family SUV. Plus, she says, it allows them to socialize more with neighbors.

“You drive around the neighborhood and say ‘hi’ to your friends,” she said. “When we have parades in town, it’s nice to drive up in it. Everyone kind of congregates around it.”

Hoopeston Police Chief Mark Drollinger helped draft his town’s ordinance in 2009, when gas prices were around $4 a gallon, and carts have grown in popularity ever since. His department issued 90 permits this year.

He says he initially had safety concerns, but drivers have been cautious.

“It’s been a very positive program,” Drollinger said.

But officials in some other towns say they’re not interested in allowing carts.

Leaders in Ogden adopted an ordinance banning golf carts because some users would have to drive on major highways to get around.

Golf carts have become a status symbol for some owners, said Kyle Coker, manager of Battery Specialists & Golf Cars in Champaign, which sells about 250 to 300 carts a year.

He said some customers request chrome wheels and big tires, stereo systems and custom paint jobs.

“They’re quiet, they’re easy, they’re social and they’re just a cool thing to have,” Coker said.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, https://www.news-gazette.com

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