Community

The Louisville Metro Council has passed an ordinance that would fine pedestrians — including panhandlers and jaywalkers. It was billed as a public safety measure and was supported by council members who say it is designed to prevent pedestrian fatalities on busy roads.

The new rule passed Thursday night limits the permissible reasons pedestrians may approach vehicles in intersections, defines where it is safe to cross roads on foot, and prohibits individuals from lingering on medians.

Groups including some labor union leaders and the American Civil Liberties Union initially criticized the ordinance for potentially infringing free speech rights. But after the vote on an amended version of the ordinance, the ACLU tweeted that Louisvillians’ First Amendment rights would not be affected while on sidewalks.

Others say it could unduly punish those who travel on foot.

District 9 councilman Bill Hollander, who voted against the measure, said his constituents in neighborhoods like Clifton and Crescent Hill frequently cross roads away from intersections. The ordinance includes jaywalking among infractions that could carry fines of $25 to $250.

 “I know, in my district, that happens every single night, every night, every hour. I’ve had people tell me there is no other place they can safely cross, except not at an intersection. I’ve had people in wheelchairs,” Hollander said.

The ordinance passed easily with a 17 to 7 vote.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.