Cartoon by Joshua Kim
How many times have you found yourself stuck in traffic as you attempt to navigate campus, only to see students driving Baylor-owned golf carts swerve into the bike lanes to speed past you? Veteran students know that driving through campus anytime near passing periods is a death sentence (if your average death sentence consisted of spending 15 minutes staring at the bumper of the car in front of you), but it is sometimes unavoidable, and there are few things more frustrating than watching Baylor’s golf carts bypass the rules we are required to abide by.
According to Baylor’s Golf and Utility Cart Usage Guide, “Golf cart-type vehicles shall observe all vehicle traffic laws (e.g. stopping at stop signs, yielding to pedestrians, following proper direction of traffic on one way streets.)” The guide doesn’t go into detail, but the rule seems to be fairly clear: Golf carts should be treated as cars. They are not bikes, and they shouldn’t have the option the choose to abide by whichever rules are most convenient for them at the time.
The Golf and Utility Cart Usage Guide also states, “Vehicles shall not be operated in a manner that may endanger passengers, other members of the campus community, or property (e.g. no driving on landscaping, bumping into bollards).” Despite this rule, students regularly see golf carts driving across fountain mall (tire prints in the mud, anyone?). The guide reiterates this rule later, adding, “Golf and utility cart-type vehicles are restricted to streets and paths on the University campus.” Students work to follow Baylor’s rules in order to keep our campus safe and beautiful. Shouldn’t golf cart-drivers be required to show the same respect?
Golf cart drivers are allowed to drive on sidewalks when that is the only option available to them. In this case, they are required to match the speed of the pedestrians walking and yield to pedestrians, regardless of the situation. When in the streets, golf cart drivers may not exceed 15 miles per hour, according to the Golf and Utility Cart Usage Guide. This might seem like a good reason for the golf carts to drive in the bike lanes instead of the normal street, but the speed limit on 3rd Street between East Village and Moody Library, a high-traffic area for both vehicles and pedestrians and one of the streets on which golf carts are most often seen driving, is only 15 miles per hour. In this section of campus, at least, golf carts can go the same speed as normal passenger vehicles. They therefore have no excuse to use the bike lanes to bypass the regular flow of traffic (or lack thereof).
Baylor uses golf carts for a number of things across campus ranging from carting guests around on tours to running errands to picking up injured students and taking them to class. These are necessary actions, but driving a golf cart on campus is a privilege. It is a job, and it should be treated as such. It is not a way for student drivers to bypass the rules, and student drivers should be shown the same intolerance for infractions as regular drivers. Furthermore, the bike lanes are not turning lanes, and they are not passing lanes. Cars, motorcycles and mopeds are not allowed to drive in them — golf carts shouldn’t be allowed either.
The rules are there for a reason: to keep students safe and to help ensure the relatively smooth flow of pedestrian, bike and vehicle traffic. Student drivers need to be more conscientious of the rules and show respect for the regulations they are required to follow. After all, if the student body is held to a certain standard, shouldn’t golf cart drivers be as well?