OPINION LETTER — Peachtree City Council should implement cart path safety recommendations

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With Peachtree City’s 2021 municipal election behind us, the new mayor and city council will act on the platforms they promoted. While a variety of issues were debated on the campaign trail, our elected candidates agreed the city needs a safer multi-use path system.

Recently, Peachtree City put together the Multi-Use Path System Advisory Group to identify ways it could reduce crashes, improve path user behaviors, and increase enforcement of the path system’s rules. After hosting a series of meetings throughout the fall where it evaluated citizen concerns, the group formally presented its recommendations on December 2nd to Mayor Vanessa Fleisch, City Manager Jon Rorie, and City Council.

Here are some of the recommendations the advisory group suggested:

• Add speed humps and stop signs to areas with high traffic volumes and path user conflicts (primarily around McIntosh High School, Lake Peachtree, and Luther Glass Park).

• Install warning signs specific to road path crossings, tunnels, and underpasses.

• Repaint markings at road crossings & path intersections.

Install curb ramps in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

• Repair crumbled surfaces.

• Cut back vegetation to improve lines of sight.

• Install path markings to designate who has the right-of-way (for example, encourage movers to keep right and to pass on the left).

• Install signs and issue PSA reminders for carts, bicycles, and movers to make an audible sound when passing pedestrians.

• Establish a standing group of volunteers to assist City staff with periodic safety reviews and to recommend new projects and PSAs.

• Increase path patrolling by Code Enforcement & Police that focuses on locations with the highest volumes and conflicts.

• Promote parental responsibility by 1) proactively providing information on how minors should operate a golf cart and 2) fining parents of repeat offenders.

• Require 12- to 15-year-old drivers to take a drivers course offered by the Police Department.

• Relocate decals to the front and back of carts for easier viewing.

Some of these actions are already underway. For example, the city has scheduled cart safety classes for teenagers, updated its “Path Rules” brochure, posted path safety PSAs on social media, and created messaging stencils to use on path surfaces and trash cans. However, there is more to do in 2022.

The advisory group’s recommendations are specific and actionable. Peachtree City’s new mayor and council should review these recommendations in detail and fulfill their campaign promise to keep our paths safe for everyone.

Kenneth Hamner

Peachtree City, Ga.

20 COMMENTS

  1. In the original opinion piece, I can get behind these 2 specific bullet points:

    “Promote parental responsibility…” AND “Require 12- to 15-year-old drivers to take a drivers course…” especially since most of the speed issues come from this specific demographic; however, “speed humps” are not a speed deterrent to those who have no regard for other people’s personal property i.e. untethered cart enclosures flying in the wind as they JUMP the newly installed “speed humps” and have no responsibility, after all, the carts that they are driving are owned by their parents (the buck stops here) whose cart shocks are now destroyed.

    The first bullet point is a source of heated debate – the addition of existing and future “speed humps” (speed bumps) is concerning and the numerous yellow spray paint along the Lake PTC path line indicating where future speed bumps are to be located is unnerving. Instead of adding more, the Multi-Use Path System Advisory Group should regroup to reduce and remove speed bumps – there is still time to fix this gross overcorrection performed under the guise of safety.

    The last bullet point of “Relocate decals” is unnecessary filler and fluff.

    In case you missed it:

    7/9: There is petition to protest against current and future requests to close any multi-use path segments over individual resident’s privacy, self-interest or other concerns >>

    “Protect Access to Peachtree City’s Multi Use Paths”: https://www.change.org/p/protect-access-to-peachtree-city-s-multi-use-paths

    7/14: Councilwoman Caola’s Retraction: https://thecitizen.com/2022/07/14/councilwoman-caola-public-notice-and-transparency-on-handling-cart-path-safety/

    With over 30 “Save Our Paths” signs aligning Atwater Park / Edgewater Way (not even counting the myriad of signs along both Lakeaires & Waterwood Bend), residents have indicated that Caola is involved in WHERE the speed bumps are being located.

    7/15: City Council Letter: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10159825202171900&id=669251899&set=gm.3253974278220224

    This is not going away; in fact, there are more speed bumps to come. Having speed bumps extend from one edge to the other edge of the path absolutely disregards our community’s walkers, runners, cyclists and the like.

    Indeed, the majority of speed bumps that extend across the entire path should be shortened on both sides and should be made a top priority of the Multi-Use Path System Advisory Group: “…any potential adjustments to speed bumps as deemed necessary.”

  2. I’m a safe and responsible golf cart driver. The battery way path is so unpleasant now due to excessive speed bumps, I’m not driving there by cart any more. I’d prefer to get in my car and contribute to PTC traffic.
    I realize safety is an issue but the amount of speed bumps completely destroys the magic of golf carting. If the goal was to make the path so uncomfortable golf carter’s would not want to drive there anymore, then mission accomplished.

  3. I don’t mind the speed bumps, too many people drive way too fast and just expect everyone to get out of their way. It’s ridiculous and getting worse. They need to address these people that don’t repair their covers and let them flap in the wind like capes as they fly by and your cart is accosted by their poorly maintained cart covers, the snaps, and zippers. Bound to put a smile on your face when one slaps your cart and chips a piece of it or breaks a headlight lens. Common sense is null and void in some.
    Just my opinion, I walk, bike, drive my cart, it makes much more sense to walk towards oncoming traffic, (ie the left side). We are the only multi use roadway that walks with our backs to oncoming traffic. It makes no sense at all. It’s safer for everyone to walk on the left side and should be a rule of the paths system.

  4. Kenneth, thank you so much for representing the work of the committee in a succinct summary that reflects what we did! I was on the committee, and we had a short time to come up with a lot of what we did. We had lots of different ideas on what we should look at, but ultimately we settled on improving safety. There were other concerns (i.e. golf carts from outside PTC), but we looked at the sentiment in the city, and it was all around safety, much more than anything else.

  5. The safety recommendations seem to be reasonable and well thought out. In addition, I would like to see the new administration give real consideration to amending or creating new ordinances which will allow our Police Department to address in an actionable manner the persistent noise issues we have on the cart path in certain areas of town…Most noticeably the east side of lake Peachtree. This is one of a number of issues that was raised and addressed back in September of last year by Citizens for Sound Government in a public forum.

  6. I agree wholeheartedly agree with and I support this package of recommendations. As an avid walker who uses the path systtem almost every day – weather permitting – my greatest concern is the presence of RECKLESS, IRRESPOSSIBLE and UNSAFE golf cart operators and bicycle riders out on the paths and who spoil an otherwise wonderful experience for the reat of us users. I would like to see a lot more police patrols on the pathways. I have been walking four miles a day for over TWENTY EIGHT YEARS and I have NEVER ONCE seen a police patrol on the pathways in my area – NOT ONCE, NEVER! I want to see reckless operators PULLED OVER, FINED and/or ARRESTED and CHARGED because ot the sense of FEAR and UNEASE that they are causing to other users, especially pedestrians. The number of close calls that I have experienced while out walking is FAR TOO MANY! On a more positive and upbeat vein of thought, I wish to congratulate and to thank all of the PTC employees who do such an AMAZING and AWESOME job of maintaining out city’s extensive network of over one hundred miles of pathways. You work very hard, you are dedicated and it can clearly be seen in the excellent conditions of the vast majority of our paths. Thank you sincerely to each and every one of you for your hard work, your dedication and your efforts. Cheers!

    • I walk and drive on paths about equally in terms of time and have observed if pedestrians would simply walk on the on the left, where they can see on-coming carts as opposed to the right where carts approach from the rear, the safety margin increases. Just as on streets. And yes some carts weave and speed all over. You can only improve your risk, not eliminate it.

      Too many pedestrians walking on the right or 2 or 3 across with earbuds, phones etc, not hearing or seeing on-coming carts. Be smarter: walk on the left.

      • I couldn’t agree more Secret. Whether someone is either walking or simply jogging, and they know traffic behind them is definitely faster with poor sight lines (turns), they gain a safety edge by traveling on the left. When you think about it, this also tends to slow cart speed down while passing – out of concern that the pedestrian may return to the right side at any time. The mindset presently by cart drivers with pedestrians on the right is to barrel on through, since they know (or should know) they’re coming up behind them anyway.

        • I see the logic, but feel it’s just as dangerous. We have so many twists and turns on the sections we walk that the blind curves would definitely cause a head on collision. It would be worth a try, but initially there would be lots of accidents because carts won’t be expecting it.

          • I hear your concern Dawn but it’s the nature of the speed and confining space – you traveling slow with your back turned and not in their lane versus in their lane and perhaps the driver or rider not seeing you. For example, walk along a busy tight road (with no shoulder) on the lane’s outer white line with moving cars going 40mph. Would you walk with that car traffic with your back to it; especially when getting dark? I hope and dearly trust not.

      • The long established Cart Path Rules REQUIRE that pedestrians walk ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE PATH and that is EXACTLY what I do as an individual walker who OBEYS and ABIDES BY the established rules that apply to EVERYONE! The FACTS and REALITY of the matter are that far too many golf cart drivers and bicycle riders care ONLY ABOUT THEIR OWN, RECKLESS, IRRESPONSIBLE, UNCARING and SELFISH SELVES! 🤬

        • Right on Crashing Boulder !
          Just an observation and question:
          Normally, when walking on a road, pedestrians walk on the left side facing on coming traffic and why would the path way rules be different?

          I experience most of my near death encounters with golf carts as they bore down on me from behind if I walk on the right side of the path.

        • Actually, the pamphlet that is handed out when people register their golf cart indicates that “pedestrians may walk on the left.” Please Google and read it. In a traditional mixed transportation system, cars and bikes are on the right and pedestrians walk against traffic, meaning on the left- check the Georgia rules of the road. However, so many folks like you expect (and almost demand) that pedestrians are on the right on the cart paths that it is actually safer to be on the right. As a runner who has run thousands of miles on the cart paths, I can attest that cart drivers largely expect pedestrians to be on the right in spite of what’s allowed that when I was on the mutli-use path system advisory group I made a suggestion the the new council consider eliminating the “pedestrians may walk on the left” provision. I’m not sure that made it into our presentation, but I clearly said it when at least one current council member was present.

          • Because of the same safety pamphlet, I began walking on the left side of the paths. I walked on the right side for 26 years before I read the pamphlet. I am now confused and prefer to walk on the right-of-ways. I find it safer.

    • I have biked and walked the paths since 1998. I agree with many of the safety concerns of others and think the recommendations listed would be helpful. But I would point out that walkers also have a responsibility to be courteous of other users. They should not walk three abreast, blocking the entire path. Walkers should keep to to the side of the path where possible and not walk down the center, blocking both sides. They should stay alert to traffic coming in both directions and not wear earbuds. Too many times I have approached a walker from behind while on my bike and rung my bell to alert them with no reaction. Then I have announced loudly “passing on your left” with no reaction. And when I finally pass the person, I’ve had them yell at me for giving them no warning. I mean, walkers also have a responsibility to pay attention and be cognizant of the fact that there are other users on the path.

  7. Thanks for a thoughtful letter and we all look forward to the new administration addressing these recommendations.
    Would also like some way to establish better rules for the “built carts”, those with large tires and lifted suspensions, gas and electric carts that have been modified to drive over the speed limit…maybe set up cameras and radar to document the excessive speeds and send letters to the owners.
    I’m not talking “Big Brother” or infringing on property rights, just saying we have a lot of modified machines driven in an unsafe manner.