Windermere in Orange County, FL to build sidewalk for Golf Carts

What do golf cart drivers, bicyclers, walkers, baby pram pushers, joggers, skateboarders and those in electric wheel chairs have in common?

The answer might be one word: Politics – at least at the local level.

In local politics, the name of the game is resources, which are, generally, in limited supply. In the town of Windermere in Central Florida (Orange County to be exact), those golf cart owners, skateboarders, and moms pushing baby carriages are finding a sense of combined political clout.

The argument revolves around where to place a five-foot wide sidewalk that is expected to be “part of a larger, multimodal network plan to make the town of Windermere easier to navigate for pedestrians, bikers and golf cart drivers,” wrote West Orange Times and Observer staff writer Eric Gutierrez in a recent article.

Yes, sadly, this is the Gilded Age of Excess Girth in American Society. We are too circular, too beamy, too massy, too bulky, big, heavy, fat. We are also far too devoted, enamored and in love with our cars. The answer: (And why didn’t we think of this before?): More sidewalks.

Sidewalks in the eyes of a town board member are the equivalent of Alexander’s sword slicing through the Gordonian Knot. They are relatively cheap, cut down on congestion on Main Street, thus, contributing to clean the air, less noise and better aesthetics in the our villages and nudge Americans painlessly towards a thinner, healthier lifestyle.

Sidewalks solve two congestion problems at once: The ones on Main Street and the ones in our arteries.

See where this gets us? That means everyone who prefer sidewalks to dodging cars  and trucks on Main Street are suddenly in the position to push for a more sidewalk-oriented towns and villages. All those things that peak at 25 MPH – skateboards, joggers, golf cart drivers, are in the same mix – as they seem to be in the sleepy town of Windermere, Florida. (“Sleepy” is always the adjective of choice for any town south of the Mason-Dixon line with fewer than 600 families living in it – 591 families, 784 households, 2,855 people live in Windermere, according to a 2013 census, says the town’s Wikipedia page).

And what if Windermere just happened to get it right, establishing the political precedent that opens the door for pro-sidewalk sentiment to sweep the nation – a sidewalk tsunami … a sidewalk utopia?  Can you image everyone slowing down a little, polluting less, cutting down on the noise we make, so we could actually converse when we met each other on America’s new Main Street, the sidewalk?

Golf cart owners may not always see eye to eye with pedestrians or moms pushing baby carriages or skateboarders. In this case, the question is: Would you rather drive down the street along with the cars, trucks and buses or on an expanded “multimodal” sidewalk built for golf carts, bikes, roller skates and electric wheel chairs? Overall, allowing more people to use golf carts for urban transportation leads to better air quality, less noise due to the electric silence, and more space in the garage at home for storage and practical work areas.

Timothy Baler has been a journalist for three decades and has had his work published in some of the nation's top publications, including The New York Times, The Miami Herald, National Wildlife and many more. He covered the economy for United Press International for eight years, but his true passion is the game of golf. The addiction took hold 20 years ago and since there's no known cure he's been at it ever since. Plays daily seven months of the year, says he goes into mourning for the other five.