Westminster passes median law

Pedestrians can no longer occupy a median 48 inches or less

Luke Zarzecki
lzarzecki@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/18/22

Westminster city council voted unanimously on July 11 to approve an ordinance banning pedestrians from occupying unpaved or uneven medians with a width of 48 inches or less. 

Heath Klein, a …

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Westminster passes median law

Pedestrians can no longer occupy a median 48 inches or less

Posted

Westminster city council voted unanimously on July 11 to approve an ordinance banning pedestrians from occupying unpaved or uneven medians with a width of 48 inches or less. 

Heath Klein, a traffic engineer for Westminster, says it comes as a public safety measure. He said a sign in a median is struck 40 times a year by a car, and cars strike signal poles 15 times a year. 

“At any point, that could be a pedestrian,” he said. “Medians are not a safe place to have a pedestrian.” 

He said it will affect 106 of 269 medians within the city. As to the other 163 medians, he said the police department is looking at how level they are and will report back to staff. 

City Councilor Obi Ezeadi said, for citizens’ sake, that the move is not an attack on first amendment rights but more of a public safety move. 

“This is really, ‘let’s keep our people safe,’” Ezeadi said. 

Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, said median laws are often targeted at people experiencing homelessness.

“Big picture view, yes, anti-panhandling ordinances can often be very targeted at people experiencing homelessness or people living on very low incomes and criminalizing the way that these individuals survive can be very detrimental,” she said. 

She said often these laws are meant to remove those asking for money away from the public eye. 

“Unfortunately, people who are experiencing homelessness who don't have access to income or are unable to work because they're living with a disability, and asking the public for money as the only way they can seek income or funds for survival, not allowing people (to do that) can be really detrimental to their survival,” she said. 

She said, though, that median laws can also often provide public health benefits. 

“The restriction only applies to the places that have the 48-inch space and could actually have a pretty significant public health and safety issue related to it,” she said. 

Those asking the public for funds are often in danger of cars hitting them or people throwing things at them, she said, so she said the ordinance can come as a protective measure. 

However, she said the intention of the move is important: was it brought to target individuals who are panhandling? Or because the medians became too dangerous? 

When asked what the city's intention of bringing this item to council was, Westminster spokesperson Andy Le cited Klein's statistics and the agenda. 

"In regard to the narrowness of the median, Staff has determined that any median with a width of 48 inches or less is too narrow to allow for a person to safely sit, stand, or walk on the median.  Medians in the City are frequently subject to vehicle collisions which knock down signs, street light poles, trees, and other landscaping," the agenda reads. 

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