Golf carts popping up on central Illinois streets

By Maggie Vespa

June 22, 2012 Updated Jun 22, 2012 at 6:29 PM CDT

Like most of us, 60 year-old Chillicothe resident Dennis Meinders doesn't like paying for gas.

And this car lover says two years ago, thanks to this little toy, the price to fill up went down big time.

"Probably 20 every 45 days. Something like that. 20 bucks," said Meinders. "(A lot of car owners out there are very jealous.) Yes, yes."

And in this small town, Meinders is part of a growing group, thanks to a three year-old Chillicothe ordinance, which allows residents to drive golf carts like cars.

Not on the course, but on city streets.

"My truck can sit, and with four dollar gasoline... this is an electric cart. It's great," said cart owner 65 year-old Terry Bobell.

At first safety was a concern, so officials say regulations were imposed.

Cart speed limits are cut off at 25 miles per hour, drivers must cross busy streets at a light and kids under 16 must be strapped in.

Other than that, it's free reign.

"We charge $25 a year for a permit," said Mayor Troy Childers, Sr. "We haven't had any trouble at all with people getting into accidents or being stupid with them, and it's just been good for Chillicothe."

And drivers like Meinders and his friend Jerry Osburn, who happened to stop by in his cart while we were filming, say there's no harm in showing off.

"(You put a lot of work into this.) I put a license plate on it, extra lighting, some chrome," said Meinders. "It's something you just want to spend a lot of time with, working on, having fun with."

Meinders says after paying normal prices for gas for years, like most, he's never going back.

"You feel totally independent. You can go night or day. It's very practical, easy to use. (Can you imagine life without your golf cart?) No," said Meinders. "It's fun."