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Gainesville city commissioners concerned about pedestrian safety as the issue of loitering on medians continues to grow

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 6:11 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Gainesville City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos said he is concerned for the safety of people sitting or standing on medians.

“What I would like for us to discuss is a pedestrian safety ordinance, to ensure that no matter who you are, you can’t be in the unsafe medians. They are not places for pedestrians.”

People that you will often find on medians include panhandlers.

“A car hits a pedestrian; it’s going to be fine. It’s pedestrians who are most at risk. We’ve had people in our community that have died from being in medians.”

David Washington is one of those people. He was hit and killed in a median while panhandling in April of 2019. It is instances like this why Commissioner Hayes-Santos is pushing to address pedestrian safety.\\

“We see it now where people just sitting in medians that are maybe a foot wide or similar to that in the middle of a highway are not safe places for people to be. It is a danger to them.”

The commissioner said his concerns about the people and their safety falls in line with one of the cities goals.

“One of our goals for the city is ‘Vision Zero,’ which is to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries to zero on our roads. This follows that in ensuring people who are in medians that are not designed for people to be in.”

He said part of the enforcement of this issue would include educating the public.

“A good portion of it is education. Letting people know that there is an ordinance that is being enforced, helping people find new ways that they can go or deal with issues they are having. If people are repeatedly doing it and not finding safer places to be then, I think that is an enforcement issue for the city of Gainesville.”

Commissioner Hayes-Santos, this enforcement process would help explain why people are standing in the middle of roads.

“Making sure that people aren’t in the medians, but it is also reaching out to whoever they might be that are in the medians and finding out why are they in these medians. Are they trying to raise money, I mean, sometimes firefighters go into the medians, and they are trying to raise money. Maybe find better places to help them raise money and other people who are asking for money or different things.”

Gainesville city commissioners are indirectly trying to deal with what appears to be a growing...
Gainesville city commissioners are indirectly trying to deal with what appears to be a growing issue with panhandling. One city commissioner believes those little islands in the middle of the road are too dangerous for people to loiter in.(WCJB)

Commissioner Hayes-Santos said his main concern is about the people and their safety.

The commission has instructed all relevant staff to determine if they can enforce the county ordinance or similar state statutes. They have also asked staff to create a draft ordinance and present it to the commission in 60 days.

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