carts are the way to go on Ocracoke
and are catching on in Hatteras village
drivers in Hatteras and Ocracoke villages have long struggled with
navigating the narrow, congested streets that, during vacation season,
are filled with cars, off-road vehicles, delivery trucks and RVs, and
are flanked on all sides by scooters, pedestrians, runners, and
on Ocracoke, where the village streets are especially narrow, parking
is at a premium, and a large number of people choose to cruise around
the compact village on foot or bike, driving through the heart of the
village is almost certain to make your blood pressure spike.
now, thanks to new measures approved by both Hyde and Dare county
governments, there is a way to avoid driving, biking, or walking
through the villages— golf carts.
right, those electric-powered, four-wheeled wonders that so nimbly
whisk you from fairway to green, can now just as deftly—and just as
legally—carry you and your buddies from Howard’s Pub to the lighthouse,
to your house, and everywhere else in between.
Hyde County Board of Commissioners recently amended the ordinance that
permits golf carts within the confines of Ocracoke village—you can’t go
past Howard’s, you can’t go on the beach, and you can’t get on the
ferries—so long as they are operated by a driver 16 or older.
carts in Ocracoke were already required to have headlights, but the new
law requires them to have taillights also. It limits the
of passengers to the number of seats and restraints and requires that
seats must be fastened to the frame of the cart. Children under 8 must
be in weight-appropriate seats.
ordinance does not take effect until Oct. 1 to give owners of golf
carts time to upgrade their vehicles.
carts are already in high demand on Ocracoke. Several rental
companies and hotels have carts they rent to their patrons, and many
other businesses, including the Community Store, the Surf Shed, and
Ocracoke Island Carts, rent to any qualified driver.
Ely of Blue Heron Realty, one of the companies that rents to its
patrons, said that the guests really seem to like them, and that they
have lots of inquiries. She said that renters are reporting that
parking is one of the biggest advantages of driving a golf cart.
“We are a
parking-challenged island,” she explained, “and guests say [the golf
carts] make parking a lot easier.”
locals, though, are still skeptical.
“Personally, I’m not nuts about it,” said Frank Mills, who runs the
Surf Shed, which rents out carts. “I think something bad is going to
the already overcrowded streets, with their plethora of people and
numerous other modes of transportation, he said the thought that
throwing golf carts into the fray was unnecessary. He also
he didn’t think golf cart use was regulated the way it should be.
business rents only to licensed drivers age 25 and up, and he instructs
all renters, before they pull away, to remember that a golf cart, for
all intents and purposes, is the same as a car, reminding them to obey
all traffic rules and to use hand signals as they would on a bike.
But for many visitors to Ocracoke, like Robert Cox, the new ordinance
is much more a blessing than a curse.
67, flew his private plane from Decatur, Ill., to Ocracoke with his
wife and his granddaughter in tow. It was their first visit
the island. With no car, Cox said he and his family had been trying to
walk everywhere they needed to go, but the heat and humidity was
starting to get to them, and his wife was no longer able to ride a
So, for Cox and his family, and many others in a similar situation, the
ability to rent golf carts on the island proved to be a great
benefit—one that surely enhanced their stay on the island.
their popularity on Ocracoke, golf carts have been slower to catch on
in Hatteras village.
Hatteras Village Civic Association, upon the request of Hatteras
resident Buddy Swain, presented a measure to regulate the golf carts to
the Dare County Board of Commissioners a few months ago, and the
ordinance was passed on July 19, with only two commissioners voting no.
to Allen Burrus, vice-chairman of the commission and a Hatteras village
resident, the commissioners’ meeting went very well, and the two who
voted against the ordinance did so only because they thought the carts
should be “street legal.”
says he thinks the carts will be good for Hatteras village, saying
that, in his opinion, the carts will add character to the village and
will hopefully help boost the economy.
“I think it
will be good for everyone,” he said. “Good for the economy, good for
the people coming down—it’s a win-win.”
introduced the idea, says he sees only benefits from the use of carts
in the village.
help slow the traffic down some in the village,” he said. “And we need
to slow it down.”
with Ocracoke, the streets of Hatteras village aren’t anywhere near as
narrow or congested, and the majority of the traffic is
vehicular. Unfortunately, a lot of those vehicles treat the
mph speed limit as more of a passive suggestion than a law, making it
dangerous, at times for the pedestrians and cyclists who also use the
also said that he thinks golf carts will provide guests and residents
with a more environmentally sound way to get around the village.
it’s much friendlier,” he said. “All the running around I do
the village, from here on out, I’m doing it in my golf cart.”
The Hatteras village ordinance allows operation of golf carts only
within the village, during daylight hours, and stipulates that carts
must not be capable of exceeding 20 mph and that they must be operated
by a driver 16 years of age or older.
may only be operated between the hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the
winter and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. when daylight savings time become effective
in the spring until Oct. 1. After Oct, 1, they may be operated only
during the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. until daylight savings time is
“I think it will be pretty beneficial to the village,” said Dennis
Robinson, president of the Hatteras Village Civic Association. “Mine
arrives on Friday.”
and Swain are among a handful of village residents who currently own
and use a golf cart, but they hope that will change.
of right now, however, there is no where to rent a cart in Hatteras, a
fact that Robinson attributes to the late-season approval of the
ordinance. In the future, though, several local rental-based businesses
say they plan to have golf carts available for rent.
Hatteras Sailing Company said it is currently working with a company to
try and get some carts for rent, and Island Cycles plans to eventually
be renting carts, though it would most likely be next year before there
would be any available. Burrus also said he was looking into getting
some carts that he could rent from his store, Burrus Red