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New vehicle in town

by Tom Chillemi

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Bob and Beth Straw cruise down Virginia St. in Urbanna in their Low Speed Vehicle.
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Chris Germaine of Minter’s Golf Sales in Tappahannock shows Bob Straw the cart’s battery power pack.
Bob and Beth Straw of Urbanna are doing something about traffic, noise and pollution—and having fun doing it. They recently bought a street legal golf cart, also known as a Low Speed Vehicle (LSV).

The electric cart has all the necessary equipment that makes it equal to a car legally, but is missing some of the negative things, said Bob Straw. It produces almost no emissions, it runs quietly, it can’t speed, and it’s very easy to park. “We’re going to make it pay for itself,” he said.

Straw said golf carts could be a good fit on Urbanna’s streets, and he hopes the town council will approve an ordinance authorizing their use in town. Golf carts came up during council’s August meeting and the matter was sent to the public safety committee for study.

Mayor Beatrice Taylor said she would like to know how the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office feels about the use of golf carts on the streets of Urbanna.

Town administrator Lewis Filling said VDOT would not allow golf carts on Virginia Street or Route 227 (Watling and Cross streets).

Jurisdictions that allow golf carts on some streets include Colonial Beach, Norfolk, Newport News and Morattico, said Chris Germaine of Minter’s Golf Cart Sales in Tappahannock, which sold the Straws their LSV. “Although some communities will let you drive golf carts on the street, the Tomberlin LSV can be driven on most city streets,” he said.

The LSV is manufactured to meet federal standards. It has seat belts, four-wheel disc brakes, lights, turn signals, windshield wipers. It does have state tags, but does not need a state inspection, added Germaine.

Its top speed is about 25 miles per hour and is permitted by law to travel on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less. It also is permitted to cross over roads with higher speed limits, said Germaine.

The base price of the LSV is $6,000.

Bob Straw said high gasoline prices and concern for the environment are causing some people to consider alternative types of transportation. “The gasoline marriage is over, we’ve had a good time, but we’ve got to change,” he said. “I really think that in 10 years from now half the vehicles will be electric.”

Another factor may have entered into the Straw’s decision to go green. “This is some toy,” he said smiling wide on his first trip through the neighborhood.

Since the LSV is environmentally friendly, it qualifies for a $500 tax break, noted Germaine.

There is very little maintenance, Germaine said. Just keep the water topped in the six batteries and plug in its automatic charger. It will go about 35 miles on a full charge.
“That’s a lot of trips to the coffee shop,” said Beth Straw. “Bob’s all over town.”

posted 09.25.2008

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