Jaywalking ordinance public hearing set for Monday

FRONT ROYAL – The town plans to start enforcing jaywalking rules in response to pedestrians being struck by vehicles.

At 7 p.m. today, the Town Council will hold a public hearing regarding the adoption of the state’s jaywalking ordinance into the town’s code.

The proposed jaywalking ordinance states that “pedestrians lawfully shall cross public streets, wherever possible, only at intersections, marked crosswalks, or an official pedestrian crossing signals; or as directed by a law enforcement officer.”

The ordinance further stipulates that it is unlawful “for pedestrians to carelessly or maliciously interfere with the orderly passage of vehicles.”

Violations of the ordinance are a class four misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $250 fine.

Town Attorney Doug Napier noted that although jaywalking is already forbidden in the town, the ordinance will provide citizens additional notice that the rules will be enforced.

The ordinance is part of the town’s S.T.O.P.S. – Smart Town Observe Pedestrian Safety – program that was initiated by Councilman William Sealock after he grew concerned about the number of pedestrians struck by vehicles.

Police Chief Kahle Magalis previously noted that four pedestrians died in traffic incidents from 2013 through March 2018. He said traffic-related pedestrians incidents numbered 12 in 2017 and nine in 2016.

Town Manager Joe Waltz said over the phone that the town intends to enforce jaywalking rules as a safety measure because the number of pedestrian traffic incidents is unacceptable.

“It’s not something that you want to do, but we have to start educating and making the public aware that they need to use designated crosswalks,” he said.

Another public hearing will be held today regarding the adoption of a new state law that went into effect in July that allows the town to add the $5 fee for criminal traffic citations.

Waltz said that $5 fee would be collected at the courthouse and sent to the town. The money will be used solely for the implementation and maintenance of a new electric summons system.