DeKalb city passes new ordinance to protect pedestrians, cyclists from distracted drivers

City of Brookhaven passes an ordinance to protect cyclists in the city

Pedestrians and cyclists in one local city just got a little safer after city leaders passed an ordinance that protects everyone on the streets who are not riding in a car.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes spoke with cyclists in Brookhaven who say this new ordinance could save lives.

Brookhaven has always been a place where you see people walking, jogging, riding bikes and pushing strollers. Any time resident Marjon Manitius needs to go somewhere, she tries to make it there without getting in her car.

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“I love biking – I love walking,” she said. But when she’s riding her bike or walking through Brookhaven, she doesn’t always feel safe with many drivers are still distracted by their phones or doing something else.

“I do notice a lot of times where drivers are not paying attention to you,” Manitius said.

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Since the pandemic, more people are out walking and biking on the streets. That’s why Brookhaven City Council members just passed the “vulnerable road user” ordinance. It protects anyone traveling through the city on anything or in anything besides a car.

Councilwoman Madeleine Simmons sponsored the ordinance and said it ultimately gives pedestrians the right of way.

“Drivers have to maintain a 3-foot distance from you. They have to yield to you when they’re turning right into a business for example and you’re on the sidewalk,” Simmons said.

"Our community should always feel safe walking and riding through our neighborhoods and this ordinance helps make sure that happens.”

Cyclists like Manitius said city leaders took a huge step in the right direction. Now it’s time to make sure the community is aware.

“Give us space – give the cyclists at least 3 feet of space and when children are involved – anticipate that they might not be as steady and might make a move that you don’t expect,” she said.

The first violation is $500 and the next one can be up to $1,000. But city leaders said the point is not to rack up money in fines. The point is for drivers to pay attention.