New ordinance aims to address uptick in panhandling

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – An ordinance being considered by a Lexington-Fayette Urban County committee on Tuesday claims to offer a three-part remedy to increased panhandling along Lexington roads and on medians.

Although not specifically focusing on panhandling, the ordinance is meant to keep pedestrians away from traffic.  Those that proposed the new ordinance cited Lexington Police statistics that show pedestrian being hit by vehicles have increased.

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The three main portions of the proposed ordinance focus on limiting jay-walking, prohibiting pedestrians from being in the roadway and approaching cars on heavily-trafficked roads, and prohibiting pedestrians from being on medians, except when crossing the street.

Under the ordinance, pedestrians (which the ordinance would defines as “any person afoot or in a wheelchair,”) can not cross a road at any place other than a crosswalk, an intersection with traffic control signals or other devices, or – if none of these items are present – only at an intersection.

The ordinance would also bar individuals from approaching any vehicle that is not legally parked on the curb or shoulder of a road.  Pedestrians would also not be allowed to stay on a median in the road unless crossing the street.

Fines for jaywalking would also be increased, rising from a minimum-maximum penalty of $5.00 to $100.00, to a penalty between $25.00 to $200.00.

The ordinance comes after the supreme court ruled Lexington’s panhandling ban as unconstitutional. For weeks following the ruling, complaints from the community have indicated a rise in the number of panhandlers on Lexington streets.

It will be considered by the full council on Tuesday, May 9th.

Last week, Mayor Jim Gray announced another initiative to address panhandling in the city, in the form of the “End Panhandling Now” van that will offer rides to those on the street and, if they are willing, a job making $9 per hour cleaning the city.  That initiative is scheduled to begin May 8th.