BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - After weeks of discussion and a recent ordinance approved in Manatee County, the City of Bradenton is following the county’s lead on an ordinance to curtail panhandling.
Bradenton’s Police Chief and the City’s Attorney mentioned Wednesday morning that the newly approved ordinance is a traffic safety ordinance that’ll tackle the issue of panhandling.
Bradenton ranks number one in the state with having serious pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and deaths according to the Florida Department of Transportation’s 2020 Highway Safety Matrix. City leaders hope the traffic safety ordinance will bring the number of accidents down and curtail panhandling.
The ordinance will apply to designated roadways where there’s been a number of serious injury accidents and even deaths. It prohibits pedestrian-to-vehicle interactions and prevents people from being on a median or a roadway unless they’re crossing at a crosswalk.
It also prohibits aggressive panhandling, something seen time after time in Manatee County.
An employee of an auto shop on Manatee Avenue says he sees at least three panhandlers a day.
“It’s getting dangerous they like to get out into the road and get some money from the outside lane," says Mechanic Tony Barbato.
“Isn’t that freedom of speech being able to interact with someone? I know it might be a safety issue but if you’re not crossing that line what is the difference? I would never approach another vehicle or anything. They put their hand out and we extend out and grab it. We try not to cross that line because we know that’s a part of the law," says Bradenton Panhandler Mark Hudec.
Intersections BPD believe are a greatest threat to pedestrians include:
- 26th Street West
- 59th Street West
- 43rd Street West
- 1st Street West
- Cortez Road West
- Martin Luther King Avenue
- 13th Avenue West
- 13th Avenue East
- Manatee Avenue East
- Manatee Avenue West
- 6th Avenue East
- 6th Avenue West
- 9th Street West
- 14th Street West
The ordinance could be amended to add more intersections that become problem areas in the future.