The Hopkinsville City Council voted to pass a pedestrian and traffic safety ordinance at its meeting Tuesday night. This was the first reading of the ordinance.

The ordinance is an attempt by the city to cut down on panhandling within city limits. According to the ordinance, pedestrians will be prohibited from approaching vehicles or being upon the median if the ordinance passes its second reading.

“This (ordinance) coming along is the result of a lot of constituent feedback with concerns around ‘panhandling,’ at key intersections throughout the community,” Hopkinsville Mayor Carter Hendricks said.

The ordinance lists 20 sections of roads as arterial roadways. Hendricks said that although some of the streets listed in the ordinance are not current panhandling hotspots, the extra streets were added as an attempt to keep panhandling from moving to those areas.

According to the ordinance, no person can walk across an arterial roadway at any place except a crosswalk. If there is no crosswalk, the person must cross only at an intersection controlled by a traffic light or other traffic device.

No person can walk or run in one of the arterial roadways or approach a vehicle on an arterial roadway unless the vehicle is legally parked at the curb or on a road shoulder.

The ordinance also states that no person can be on the median of an arterial roadway unless he is in the process of legally crossing.

A person would be in violation of the ordinance if he stays on a median longer than two “consecutive opportunities to cross the roadway in a legal manner.”

People participating in law enforcement or rescue activities are an exception to the ordinance. The ordinance also makes clear that a person entering a stopped vehicle — such as a taxi — are also under the ordinance’s exceptions.

If the roadway does not have a sidewalk or shoulder in compliance with Kentucky Revised Statutes, a person may walk along that road as long as they do not approach a vehicle.

“Pedestrian traffic safety is really the priority and focus of this ordinance,” Hendricks said. “But there is no doubt that it also touches on panhandling and some of the impacts it has throughout our community.”

The ordinance was on the previous council agenda but was tabled to expand its wording.

The council voted 9-1 to pass the first reading of the ordinance. Council member Jason Bell voted against the ordinance. Council members Terry Parker and Don Ahart were not in attendance.

Reach Jon Russelburg at 270-887-3241 or jrusselburg@kentuckynewera.com

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