Roanoke installing more than two dozen signs to keep people off medians

City code prohibits people from standing in median

By Irisha Jones - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - Whether you're selling candy for a good cause or asking for money, police in Roanoke are using signs to prevent people from standing in the medians of public roadways.

Gary Carr makes his living by holding up a sign, hoping people will stop to spare him some change. 

"Traditionally, it's panhandling. But we call it flying the sign," said Carr.

His usual spot is off-limits, forcing him to the side of the road.

"Until recently, we could do things in the median and it's better in the median for us because we have both lanes of traffic so it makes things a lot easier," explained Carr.

Just a few weeks ago, signs started showing up on public roadways with a median.

Roanoke police stopped short of saying the signs are necessary for those who are panhandling, citing safety reasons. 

"We have folks in the median and its illegal to do so. City code section prohibits them from standing in the median," said Roanoke Police Lt. Jason Holt.

If you're standing in the median or not, the signs also encourage people to call 211 to connect with health and human service resources across the commonwealth.  

Roanoke police initiated the partnership. 

There will be a total of 25 signs once they're all in place at various locations around the city.

Violation of the city code is a Class 2 misdemeanor that can lead to jail time or a fine. 

The city of Salem put up similar signs around the city last year to cut down on solicitation. 

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