CLAYTON, Mo. – The St. Louis County Council has advanced a new bill aimed at restricting pedestrians from being on the roadways.
Most of the council was in support except for two councilwomen who feared there were some flaws, including targeting the homeless, but Councilman Ernie Trakas fought back, saying this bill is designed to help everyone.
“The bill can best be described in two words. Public. Safety,” Trakas said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the St. Louis County Council voted to move forward with a bill aimed at banning pedestrians from the roads. Trakas originally introduced the bill.
“It targets no one and, at the same time it excludes no one,” he said. “Meaning it doesn’t mean if you’re a firefighter with a boot, a boy scout or a newsboy, or a homeless person, we’re worried about your safety on the roadways.”
Following a lawsuit in 2021 that gave panhandlers more rights on the road, drivers around St. Louis County have seen a rise in people asking for money.
In August, FOX 2 reported how several cities in St. Louis County adjusted their rules to curb begging in the streets. For example, the City of Manchester adjusted its ordinance to have panhandlers move to the sidewalk. If approved, Bill 86 would ban pedestrians from sitting, standing, or walking in the streets.
“I have mixed feelings about that because I know people are out here really struggling,” said Joan Davis, a St. Louis resident. “They don’t have a job, and they children, and they don’t have no means of support, but they do kind of mess up the traffic.”
“I think if St. Louis is concerned about people’s safety, there’s a lot more important things they can be going after,” Tony English, an Overland resident. “I definitely think they’re just trying to get after people that are at their end desperation.”
If there aren’t sidewalks, the bill states pedestrians can walk on the left side of the road, opposite the traffic. Exceptions include law enforcement, road workers, an emergency, or when using public transportation.
Dangerous conditions for drivers and pedestrians are a top concern.
“A guy just knocked on my car door; that was a day that I was like this, I don’t want them out here in the streets because it can be dangerous and they can be hit by cars too,” said Jason Logan, a St. Louis resident.
The council will continue discussions with a possible vote at the next meeting on Tuesday.