2021 | Government

County bill proposes permits for soliciting on roads, medians, sidewalks

Free permit would require compliance with traffic safety laws

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Montgomery County residents might soon be required to obtain a permit to collect money or donations from vehicles stopped on high-speed roadways.

County Council Member Craig Rice, who proposed the legislation on Tuesday, said the new iteration would help meet Vision Zero goals to protect pedestrians from traffic-related injuries or fatalities. He noted that two residents died in 2013 and 2017 while standing on medians.

Individuals would be required to have a permit to stand in a roadway, median divider or sidewalk adjacent to a high-speed roadway to solicit from vehicle passengers. High-speed roadways are defined as having speed limits exceeding 25 miles per hour.

Permits would be granted and conditioned on the applicant complying with certain safety laws, which include following traffic control signals and soliciting on high-speed roadways only during daylight.

Applications for the free permits would be placed in homeless shelters, as well as cooling and heating centers around the county. A permit would be good for 12 months.

“Education materials that identify the risks of roadside solicitation and [provide] safety rules would be provided with a permit,” Rice said. “What this is doing is saying that if people are going to put themselves in harm’s way, then at least we give them the tools necessary to try and keep them safe.”

Construction workers and Department of Corrections workers get safety vests and instructions on road safety, Rice said.

“We should do the same when it comes to anyone else who’s in our medians,” he said. “No one should be treated any less because of the fact that they may be homeless or soliciting for any type of charity or whatever the case may be.”

A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on May 11.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.