SONI FINK, a short woman with ruby red hair, has lived in Peter Cooper Village since 1961, but on Tuesday afternoon, when she took a walk on the paths of her complex and those of neighboring Stuyvesant Town, she got a small jolt.
The paths were crowded with young mothers, children and older people, and the large construction and landscaping projects that have been going on meant that Ms. Fink’s usual route was blocked by temporary fencing. As she looked for a detour, she heard a succession of beeps emanating from an unseen vehicle. “Something’s backing up over there,” she announced to a companion.
In fact, Ms. Fink was glad to hear those warning beeps. In recent months, as a member of the tenant association, she has shared fellow residents’ concern over what they say is the danger posed by golf carts driven by maintenance workers along the pedestrian walkways. The electric carts, residents say, move soundlessly and often at high speeds, to the point that pedestrians must walk as defensively as if they were crossing a busy street.
In December, City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who lives in Peter Cooper Village, wrote to Tishman Speyer Properties, which bought Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town in 2006, to draw attention to residents’ reports that “golf carts drive fast and whip around corners with no warning.” He asked that the workers slow down and obey the one-way signs posted on the roads. In an interview last week, Mr. Garodnick said the carts continued to pose a risk, especially to the young and the old.
In response to complaints, George Hatzmann, a managing director at Tishman Speyer, defended the use of the 32 carts used by his company and outside contractors for the complexes, which have 110 buildings with 11,200 apartments.
“It really is necessary that they use the paths,” he said. “It obviously takes a significant amount of staff, and there’s just no other way to get around.”
As for Mr. Garodnick’s letter, he added, the company has enrolled drivers in a safety course, installed a light on top of each cart, and affixed a number for identification. All drivers must also sign a form noting that pedestrians have the right of way and promising not to drive faster than a person walking.
Still, the controversy worsened in January, when a 2-year-old boy was slightly injured, either because a cart ran into him or because he ran into the side of the cart as it was moving. Also, a forum on the tenant association Web site has been dotted with lively and often angry complaints about the carts. “No pedestrians allowed on sidewalks,” was one typically sarcastic remark.
Helen Thompson, a 41-year resident of Peter Cooper Village, takes a more practical approach to the carts. “This is their turf,” she said. “I give them the right of way.”