By foot or by hoof
In my adventurous youth, I had the opportunity to travel to the Caribbean in what turned out to be one of those growing and learning experiences we all encounter in some fashion or other. At the age of 19, I had saved up enough money working on a golf course in Massachusetts, doing "grunt work" in a printing plant, driving a fork lift in a wire factory and painting houses and dingy apartment buildings to buy a ticket to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. I really wanted to get off the tourist path, so I hired a fisherman to take me to Jost van Dyke, a tiny island north of St. Thomas in the British Virgin Islands. It was an idyllic setting and very laid back. In fact, there was no transportation on the island except by foot and a few donkeys. Having never traveled outside the United States, where it's hard to get away from cars or other automobiles, I marveled at the primitive way they got around and the fact that nobody cared about time or punctuality. It was a great break, but far from the reality that we experience here. Thinking about our quick-paced lifestyle and need for speed, this issue focuses on transportation.
Without transportation (or if you only have a donkey), you can chew up a lot of time getting around a large facility, such as a park, golf course or resort. Even inside large buildings where you find smooth, hard surfaces like concrete and other flooring, I've seen people trying to save time on roller blades, bicycles and two-wheeled motorized scooters that look like the foot-powered ones we used to have as kids. On your grounds, it's a different story. You need a vehicle that can effectively transport people and materials over turf, up and down slopes and across somewhat rough terrain. Your vehicle also must be relatively small so that it can fit through tight areas unsuitable for even light trucks or other larger vehicles, and it must be light enough to avoid leaving a heavy footprint on the turf. With these parameters in mind, manufacturers have developed a wide array of utility and all-terrain vehicles to meet your needs. Learn what's available for off-road transport in this issue's opening feature beginning on page 14.
For roadways, I doubt there are many grounds-care professionals who don't have at least one light-duty truck in their fleets. In fact, our latest research indicates that 86 percent of our landscape-contractor subscribers own pickup trucks. If you consider other light trucks with flat beds, dumps or van chassis, the percentage of subscribers owning trucks is probably much higher. To help you choose your next light-duty truck, Jim Mele, editorial director of our sister publication, FleetOwner, describes the new models for 2000 in "Equipment options: Light-duty trucks," beginning on page 25.
Hauling loads and equipment on busy streets can be dangerous if you don't take appropriate safety precautions and double-check that they are in place. A simple walk-around with a checklist is a good place to start every time you haul. As a private pilot, I wouldn't get into a plane I plan to fly unless I checked it out first. After all, if something is amiss and I find out about it while I'm in the air, I can't just pull over and fix it. When you are hauling a load of equipment, you can't afford a mishap either. Drivers, pedestrians and your equipment are at risk if you don't make double sure everything is securely tied down and its weight is properly distributed. As a guide for safe hauling, take a look at "How to: Prepare your vehicle for hauling" on page 20.
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