Less than a year after launching, Cartwheels will be coming to more areas in downtown Leesburg after a unanimous Town Council vote on Tuesday.
The app-based golf cart business, which drives people from public Leesburg parking lots to various downtown destinations, will expand down South King Street to Fairfax Street SE and a bit farther down Harrison Street so it can pick up and drop off people from Crescent Place.
Asa Rusk, owner of Cartwheels and the taxi and sober ride business Road Yachts, started Cartwheels in earnest in the spring. The golf carts have become a hit for those who want to get around downtown Leesburg. All golf carts are equipped with headlights, windshield wipers and seat belts and can go up to 25 miles per hour, the speed limit for downtown Leesburg.
Rusk approached the town with this expansion request because he’s gotten multiple requests from potential customers.
“It seems that in a relatively short period of time … it’s been working quite well and is a complement to the downtown,” said attorney Don Culkin, whose office is based downtown. “The definition of downtown is changing. It only makes sense that the cart service be expanded.”
While council and town staff supported the expansion, Leesburg police weren’t as certain because the business has been running for less than a year.
“We haven’t had enough time to evaluate the current program before expanding,” Deputy Chief of Police Vanessa Grigsby said. However, Grigsby said that officers have not seen any issues or received complaints thus far.
Councilman Tom Dunn, who voted against Cartwheels last year, changed his vote this year after seeing the business’s success. However, he is still uncertain on the issue of safety.
“When a golf cart tangles with a car, the golf cart loses,” Dunn said. “We don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”
Some local residents believe the golf cart actually increases safety. If Rusk’s drivers see one of their passengers is drunk, they won’t let that passenger drive—they can call a rideshare service or use a Road Yachts sober ride. If they won’t do either, a Cartwheels driver will call police.
Phil Fust, brewer of Loudoun Brewing Company in Leesburg, added that golf carts can help enforce the downtown speed limit.
“[Cars going] 25 miles an hour would be awesome,” he said. “[The golf carts] would slow everybody down and be helpful and benefit safety.”
Rusk said he’ll garage his golf carts if there is any snow or sleet in the winter. However, for clear days he’s installing heaters so passengers can stay warm.
Rusk also says that he will be talking with Loudoun County about dropping people off at the courthouse.
“People really love it, really enjoy it. It has been a destination in itself,” said Mayor Kelly Burk. “I am excited that we’re extending it.”