CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – Christiansburg police will give a ticket to anyone caught collecting money or exchanging goods along public roads and highways in the town. The town council passed the new ordinance on Tuesday night.
The purpose of the ordinance change in Christiansburg is to protect the public health and safety of all visitors and residents living in the town.
Town leaders came up with a new ordinance to prevent panhandlers and others from performing their business in public roads in the town.
The order reads, "No pedestrian and the operator of a motor vehicle shall exchange or attempt to exchange any item while the operator's motor vehicle is located in a traffic or travel lane on town roadways."
"We have created this ordinance not to dampen anyone's First Amendment rights. It has nothing to do with any speech that is taking place on the side of a roadway. It's designed to prevent people from interacting with motor vehicles while they are in operation."
But standing on the side of roads and sidewalks is allowed. David Wicks, of the Sub Rosa Studios tattoo shop, said he doesn't allow any solicitation but often sees people out front asking for money.
"I think it's smart to try to control the situation but I don't think you should fine a person giving someone else the money. I think someone walking out in the street is dangerous, definitely, but like I said before, it's a problem that could be mental health, laziness. It could be a number things why people panhandle,"
Council members said the ordinance stems from complaints from people feeling as if they're being harassed. Wicks said there should be another solution.
"I agree, but that's only part of the problem. The problem stepping out into the traffic so this man is going to stand on the curb and wait for you to park your car," said Wicks.
The ordinance states if the pedestrian or driver doesn't follow the order, both will be charged with a traffic violation.