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Town approves jaywalking ordinance

FRONT ROYAL – Pedestrians should watch their step as the town recently passed a jaywalking ordinance in a continued effort to curb the occurrence of pedestrians being struck by vehicles.

The ordinance, which allows police to ticket pedestrians illegally crossing roadways, was unanimously approved at Town Council’s regular Monday meeting.

The ordinance stipulates that “as a matter of public safety to pedestrians and motorist, 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.”

Town Attorney Doug Napier explained that violation of the ordinance in “minor instances” will be treated as traffic citations punishable by a maximum $100 fine.

He said violations threatening “bodily harm” to pedestrians would be punishable as class four misdemeanors, which carry a maximum $250 fine.

“If it’s intentional or likely to result in serious bodily harm, it becomes a crime. That means the judge can take into account previous convictions and can impose a penalty accordingly,” Napier said.

While the Front Royal Police Department could already enforce jaywalking laws because they are listed in the state code, officials thought it would be appropriate to adopt them into the town code before enforcement begins.

The ordinance states that the town is enacting the rules as “a matter of public safety to pedestrians and motorist.” Chief of Police Kahle Magalis previously noted that four pedestrians died in the last five years.

The ordinance comes as the town promotes its S.T.O.P.S. – smart towns observe pedestrian safety – campaign, which has included crosswalk improvements and public education efforts.

Town Council also:

  • Approved an ordinance amendment allowing an additional $5 charge to each criminal or traffic case. This revenue will fund software, implementation and maintenance of an electronic summons system.
  • Waived curb and gutter requirements at 419 and 423 Luray Ave.
  • Recognized Lorraine Hultquist for her contributions to the Urban Forestry Advisory Commission for six years.
  • Recognized James “Jimmy” S. Beatty for his 45 years of employment with the wastewater treatment plant.
  • Set a Sept. 10 vote regarding a proposed property maintenance code.

All councilmen were present at the meeting.

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