As of Wednesday, March 30, 443 carts were registered at city hall, according to Cindy Franje, a finance clerk for the city. That’s compared to 253 by the same date last year, Franje said.
The increased numbers can be partly attributed to the fact that at least two new golf cart rental businesses opened in town this year.
Coastal Ed’s Coastal Cruisers & More has 10 carts that are new to the streets of Port Aransas. American Rentals has another 10.
The Inside Out Beach Decor shop was renting golf carts last year, but it has grown its fleet by five vehicles this year.
So, the bulk of the newly registered golf carts in town appears to be owned by private citizens.
The whole golf cart thing has become so popular that at least two groups of Port Aransans – both part-time and full-time residents – have banded together, largely for fun, but partly with some serious aims, with a love of golf carts as a common thread.
A group based largely out of Pioneer RV Park has held weekly beach gatherings in the past that have attracted dozens of cart-driving partiers.
Another group is the Port Aransas Cart Club, which got started in February. Enthusiasts in the group gather to share a mutual love of golf carts and promote public education on golf cart safety and city golf cart regulations, according to Mike Secich, whose title with the organization is, rather than president, head driver.
Membership is open to anyone who owns a streetlegal golf cart or neighborhood electric vehicle, and also businesses that rent, sell, repair or maintain them.
Why are golf carts getting so big in Port Aransas?
“I think it’s because they fit in with life in Port Aransas,” Secich said while hanging out with fellow club members on the beach on a recent afternoon. “Most of us come here because we don’t want the same old crap as everywhere else – we like a relaxed lifestyle. People complain that golf carts go slow, but here’s a safety thing: When you slow people down, they’re not flying down Alister.”
Then there’s the savings on gasoline, at a time when gas prices are skyrocketing. Dave Srader, a member of the cart club, said he has saved about $125 a month on gas since he bought a cart.
Dee Freeman, also a cart club member, said the main reason she bought a cart is because they’re more environmentally friendly than bigger vehicles, and they’re easier to get into parking spaces.
Freeman’s husband, John, said golf carts are just plain fun.
“It’s good to feel the wind on your face,” he said.
Some tips for folks who own golf carts or are thinking about buying them:
• To cruise on Port Aransas city streets, golf carts must have city-issued license plates, which can be purchased at city hall.
• While the city will register golf carts, it won’t register utility vehicles like Polarises and Mules. They’re not street legal.
• By ordinance, golf carts may legally travel on any street in Port Aransas except for State Hwy. 361 south of Avenue G, and any street where the speed limit is not more than 35 mph.
• Golf carts can’t legally be operated on public sidewalks, pedestrian walkways, playgrounds, public parks, school grounds “ or other public recreational areas not designated for motor vehicle traffic,” according to the city’s golf cart ordinance.
• While the beach is a public recreational area, golf carts are allowed on the beach roadway, because that’s an area that’s designated for motor vehicle traffi c, by law.
• You have to have a driver’s license to operate a golf cart on city streets.
Questions? Com- ments? Contact Dan Parker at ( 361) 749- 5131 or email@example.com.