DUNWOODY, Ga - Heads up drivers, just as traffic is picking up on the roads as businesses are starting to reopen, a new ordinance is going into effect Friday in Dunwoody to keep the roads safer for everyone.
Dunwoody city leaders say they're the first int eh regions to have what they call a Vulnerable Road User Ordinance, or VRU Ordinance. That includes walkers, joggers, cyclists, skateboarders, construction workers... anyone who is using the road but is not in a vehicle.
The VRU Ordinance lays down the law for drivers when approaching pedestrians, cyclists, or others on the road. Starting on May 1st, drivers are required to leave a 3-foot distance when passing a Vulnerable Road User.
"State law is a little ambiguous there, it says 3 feet when feasible, in Dunwoody there is no question about it. 3 feet is required even if you have to cross the double yellow line to have that safe distance," said Dunwoody City Councilman Tom Lambert.
The ordinance states drivers can't intimidate or harass anyone pedestrians or cyclists.
"That includes yelling at them, throwing things at them, an aggressive move toward them with your car, and no pulling in front of them," said Lambert.
The penalties are stiff. Up to $1000 fine and 6 months in jail. The penalties can be reduced or waived if the driver takes a driver safety course regarding unsafe behavior.
"I think it's great, it's really good if we share the road with pedestrians or bicycles or whatever," said Melisa McKee who was out walking Thursday afternoon.
"I like it, hopefully, it encourages safer driving and distracted driving. We just lost a member of our cycling group over in Sandy Springs last Friday who was hit by a car, so hopefully, people take notice and I applaud Dunwoody for it," said David Bassity a cyclist.
Lambert says this is not anti-driver legislation. If pedestrians and cyclists aren't obeying the rules of the road, drivers won't be cited.
That sounds fair to Kimberly Stearns, who lives in Dunwoody.
I'm also a driver and I get frustrated when I'm tooling along behind somebody and they're spread out, oblivious to the fact there's a vehicle behind them," said Stearns.
Dunwoody leaders say while they're the first in the first in the region to have an ordinance like this, they hope they're not the last.
"We hope we're a trailblazer, and other municipalities will follow us, and eventually we'll have a statewide ordinance like ours," said Lambert.