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Safety Ordinance Outlines New Road Rules For Pedestrians

Josh James

With Lexington’s anti-panhandling ordinance struck down and the practice on the rise, city leaders are trying out new language aimed at protecting pedestrians on or near roadways.

With 10 pedestrian deaths in Fayette County involving vehicles in 2016, and numbers trending up, city council members are considering new restrictions on when and where residents can be in roadways. The measure broadens anti-jaywalking provisions and bars pedestrians from being in streets and approaching cars on 75 heavily-trafficked roads.

"This is not a silver bullet," Councilman Kevin Stinnett told colleagues. "This is not going to make us safe tomorrow, but it will have a huge impact on safety down the road."

If okayed in its current form, the ordinance would also stiffen existing penalties. For instance, those found standing on the road or on medians in specified areas could run the risk of a $100 fine if observed by police.

Lexington’s rarely enforced anti-jaywalking rules could also receive more teeth under the safety reforms, but some city leaders worry they could go a step too far. The city already bars jaywalking on neighborhood roads bounded by lighted signals, but new language sent to the full council could extend that prohibition to all residential streets.

8th District Councilman Fred Brown objected to that possibility, saying, "We need an exception in there. You've got any residential street. People cross to talk to their neighbor any time, and if you call that jaywalking we might as well forget about neighborhoods."

City attorney Keith Horn told the body he believes the council can carve out a workable exception. Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard also said it’s unrealistic to expect the department to monitor road crossings in neighborhoods, unless there is a complaint.

The ordinance heads to the full urban county council next Tuesday.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.