The near death experience that played out before me, Saturday morning, highlights the importance of the Melbourne City Council’s ordinance that forbids any transaction between a driver in travel a lane and a person on the roadside.
As I cruised eastward toward the intersection of 192 and US 1 in Melbourne, the green light meant I could continue my happy keep-on-trucking vibe uninterrupted. Ahead of me, to the left, was a car at a complete stop. The driver was handing something to a panhandler. Barreling toward the dead-weight of this car was an SUV. The driver of the SUV swerved to the right to avoid a collision with the stopped vehicle. In a flash, the SUV had to slam on its breaks to avoid crushing the panhandler who was now in the direct path of the vehicle. The man had concluded his business with the stopped car and was making his way, against the light, to the opposite sidewalk.
A fraction of a second is all it takes for something to go horrifically wrong. Thankfully, the driver of the SUV was not texting, or reaching for a sandwich, or adjusting the radio. If the driver had been distracted, this situation could easily have resulted in a fatality that would have caused heartache for this man’s family and for the city of Melbourne. For those directly involved it would have been a weight carried for the rest of their lives. I slowed my car as I watched the situation unfold, and we all made it through the intersection without serious incident, but it was close.
Mayor Alfrey and Melbourne’s City Council members have been accused of being heartless, of criminalizing kindness, and of hating the homeless; however, the City of Melbourne is working tirelessly with organizations such as Daily Bread and Brevard Homeless Coalition, as well as with many other groups, to improve the assistance available to the homeless and hungry of Melbourne.
This incident illustrates perfectly why the traffic safety ordinance is needed, and why we all need to support the ordinance and adhere to its rules. If people want to give something to a panhandler, they can pull over and hand the person food or money when safely out of a travel lane. If people continue with transactions within a travel lane, they will continue to place lives at risk.
The Melbourne City Council adopted the traffic safety ordinance by unanimous vote at the August 11, 2021 meeting of the Melbourne City Council.
Melbourne City Council meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesday of each month unless otherwise indicated. Meetings begin at 6:30 pm and are held in council chambers at Melbourne City Hall 900 E Strawbridge Ave, Melbourne, FL 32901. The public is invited to speak. Meetings are live streamed for those unable to attend.