Fayette County

Lexington’s new panhandling ordinance now in effect

A panhandler walked between lanes of traffic at the intersection of North Broadway and New Circle Road in Lexington on April 29, 2017.
A panhandler walked between lanes of traffic at the intersection of North Broadway and New Circle Road in Lexington on April 29, 2017.

A new ordinance that prohibits pedestrians and beggars from entering traffic on major Lexington roadways took effect Monday.

The Traffic and Safety Ordinance also prohibits people from crossing 75 major Lexington streets except at crosswalks, traffic lights or at intersections if there is no light or crosswalk. Under the new ordinance, people are not allowed in medians on those 75 major roadways.

The ordinance, which was passed by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council in May, replaces an ordinance that was struck down by the state Supreme Court in February. The state’s highest court said the previous ordinance that banned begging on public streets and sidewalks ran afoul of the First Amendment.

The Urban County Council debated for several months on how to change the ordinance after seeing an uptick in the number of people panhandling on city streets after the February decision. The city also started a new program that picks up panhandlers twice a week and provides jobs for them throughout the city.

The fines for violating the ordinance depend on the violation and range from $25 to up to $250.

The 75 major streets in the ordinance include Richmond, Winchester and Versailles roads, Main and Vine streets, New Circle Road and Man O’War Boulevard.

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