Harrisonburg council to consider regulating pedestrians in medians

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — A proposed ordinance on the agenda at the March 26th Harrisonburg City Council meeting would prohibit pedestrians from standing, sitting, squatting, or lying in certain medians.

City Attorney Chris Brown spoke about how the Harrisonburg Police Department and the City's Public Works chose seven intersections to target for the measure.

"Really, it's a traffic safety issue, trying to minimize the chances of adverse interactions between pedestrians and motorists, or pedestrians being in the median and distracting motorists leading to automobile accidents," said Brown.

There are exceptions to the ordinance.

"If someone's legally crossing the road, you can get caught on the median while crossing, that's fine," said Brown. "If Public Works employees or other folks are doing work, that's fine, or if it's an emergency situation."

There are penalties associated with those who do not follow the ordinance.

"The fine for the first two offenses is $100, after that it goes up to $200, and under our ordinance, the court always has the option of community service, in lieu of fines," said Brown.

The seven intersections under the ordinance include:
-South Main Street and Martin Luther King Junior Way
-South Main Street and Stone Spring Road
-South Main Street and Pleasant Valley Road
-East Market Street and Carlton Street
-East Market Street and Linda Lane/Burgess Road
-West Market Street and High Street
-South High Street and Martin Luther King Junior Way

The ordinance will not prohibit pedestrians in any medians other than the ones listed.

During the last three years, each of those intersections has seen an average of five or more motor vehicle crashes every year.

According to Brown, City Council will have two readings on the issue, and may chose to have a public hearing.

The ordinance could be passed at the first meeting in April.

The city of Waynesboro recently added signs to a number of intersections telling people, "Please do not donate to persons in median," which their city council said is designed to benefit the safety of the people in those medians.

Harrisonburg repealed its ordinance against panhandling in 2016 after a series of similar codes in Virginia were repealed on the basis of panhandling being protected by the First Amendment.