Oklahoma City Council considering proposed change “Median Safety Ordinance” that targets panhandlers

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Council is considering a proposed change to the “Median Safety Ordinance” that targets panhandlers.

City officials say the proposed change would place restrictions for pedestrians on medians only for streets with speed limits of 40 mph and higher.

The change, introduced during Tuesday’s Oklahoma City Council meeting and set for a public hearing and vote Nov. 7, is recommended by the Municipal Counselor’s Office. The recommendation is in response to concerns from the community about the breadth of restrictions in the original ordinance adopted in December 2015.

The current ordinance prohibits sitting, standing or staying on medians based on the size of the median.

The proposed change shifts the basis to the speed limit, supported by statistics from federal public health and roadway safety agencies.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports higher vehicle speeds increase the likelihood of death or life-threatening injury to a pedestrian when a vehicle hits someone.

A person hit by a vehicle at 40 mph has an 85 percent of being killed, compared to 5 percent at 20 mph and 45 percent at 30 mph, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

City officials said medians are traffic safety devices and are dangerous places for pedestrians to sit, stand, or stay.

The Municipal Counselor’s Office has redrafted the regulation to address only the greatest danger to pedestrians on traffic medians.

The ordinance, if adopted, would take effect Dec. 7.

Violators would be subject to a fine of up to $100, plus court costs.

As with anyone fined for a City of Oklahoma City ordinance violation, people who can’t afford to pay the fine are granted an indigency hearing before a Municipal Court judge and have options for restitution.