CALL TO ACTION: PROPOSED Vulnerable road user ordinance
Monday, 11/18/19 at City Hall at 6 pm the Dunwoody City Council will vote on a proposed Vulnerable Road User (VRU) ordinance. The proposed ordinance is designed to protect road users who are more vulnerable than people in cars and trucks. Examples of VRUs include pedestrians, bicyclists, and those in wheelchairs, but the list also includes others such as construction workers. Strict VRU laws ensure the continued safety of these individuals and stiffens the penalties for drivers who strike or act aggressively toward VRUs. A vote was deferred at the October 14th council meeting after significant discussion. If you want Dunwoody to be a more pedestrian and bike friendly city, please attend the November 18th meeting and speak in favor of the VRU ordinance.
Vulnerable Road User (VRU) Laws provide important legal protection to pedestrians, bicyclists and other persons who are not protected by steel cages. VRU laws operate on the principal of general deterrence – by providing an increased penalty for certain behaviors that lead to the serious injury or death of certain road users, people will be deterred from doing those behaviors around those users. This proposed Dunwoody ordinance would provide protections for defined VRUs including pedestrians, those persons engaged in work upon a highway, in work upon a utility or engaged in the provision of emergency services. In addition, the definition includes persons operating a bicycle, tricycle or other pedal-powered vehicles, a tractor, a skateboard, roller skates, in-line skates, a scooter, a moped, a motorcycle, an animal-drawn wheeled vehicle, an electric personal assistive mobility device or a wheelchair. The ordinance prohibits certain actions as they relate to these vulnerable road users including giving at least 3 feet of space to pass if driving a car or truck. However, a motorist has an affirmative defense to prosecution if the vulnerable road user was acting in violation of any applicable law. Councilman Tom Lambert and Police Chief Billy Grogan have worked extensively with Bill Riley, Assistant City Attorney, in drafting this ordinance to better protect VRUs.
Councilman Lambert and Chief Grogan introduced the legislation for it’s first read at the September 23rd council meeting. The ordinance was revised based on feedback received and brought back for a second read at the October 14th meeting. After significant discussion, Council voted to defer a vote on the proposed ordinance. The meeting minutes, videos of the sessions, and the Nov. 18th agenda are located on the City website at https://onbase.dunwoodyga.gov:8081/OnBaseAgendaOnline/Meetings. The full text of Councilman Lambert’s passioned speech may be found at https://travelingatthespeedofbike.com/2019/09/24/1st-vulnerable-road-user-ordinance/
77% of our roadways do not have sidewalks, and 90% do not have bike lanes. The average risk of SEVERE injury for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle reaches 50% at 31 mph. Strict VRU laws ensure the continued safety of those who commute by pedal or foot, and who work on the roadways. The ordinance clearly defines the responsibility of both the motorist and the VRU, providing for an affirmative defense if the VRU is not obeying the law. It also sends a message to motorists who think they own the road that the city does not endorse that attitude. The ordinance would prohibit “road rage” behavior like throwing an object at another road user, maneuvering a car in a manner intended to intimidate or overtaking a VRU and then immediately turning in front of them. The primary goal is to educate and change behavior, so it allows for reduced penalties in exchange for completion of awareness courses. This ordinance will make it safer for all Dunwoody residents and visitors, regardless of their form of transportation.
Attend and speak at the Monday’s council meeting. Arrive promptly by 5:45 pm. Grab a 3×5 Public Comment card, fill it out & hand it in to the city clerk BEFORE 6 pm. Have an outline. Speak from your heart. You get three minutes. Get a baby sitter. Carpool. Bring the kids. Call in sick. Do whatever you have to do, but show up. Why? Because those that simply SHOW UP get heard; get counted; make a difference.
Forward this on & invite your friends. And THANKS!!