The board of aldermen in Rutland, Vermont, voted this week to establish fines on drivers who cut through parking lots and other property in order to skip red lights or stop signs.
“I've seen it plenty of times,” Darlene Rankin said of drivers who dodge red lights by turning into a parking lot and cutting through the other side. “I almost got hit once just trying to pull in [at a gas station’s pump] and get gas.”
That kind of move is not illegal statewide in Vermont, but Monday, George Gides of the Rutland City Board of Aldermen pushed for a local ordinance.
“This has got to stop,” Gides said of stoplight skipping, which he said is bad at several intersections in Rutland, including one with a gas station and convenience store near Rutland High School.
The ordinance, which Gides said was modeled after language on the books in other states, passed on a 9-1 vote.
“If there's no law against it, somebody's going to get hurt,” Gides warned.
The alderman said people walking in parking lots are likely not expecting through-traffic, and could get hit as they look for car keys or return credit cards to their wallets after making a purchase.
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The new rule creates fines for drivers who cross sidewalks, driveways, parking lots or other property to avoid red lights or stop signs.
According to the text of the ordinance, the fines are $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, and $250 for third or subsequent offenses.
Gides noted that any fines would be issued at the discretion of the police.
David Wright, who told necn he lives just outside of Rutland but frequently travels to and through the city, said he doesn't see anything wrong with passing through a parking lot, as long as it's done carefully.
“I think it's a way to relieve traffic congestion in some cases,” Wright said. “So I don't know why they're bothering to micromanage people's behavior in this way. I think this is just going too far.”
But it already may go farther. A state representative from Rutland said Wednesday he wants a broader, statewide law at least considered in Montpelier.
“I'm not going to say there should be a law yet, but we should be discussing it,” said Rep. Peter Fagan, R-Rutland, adding he hopes to see the issue brought up in a House committee.
The Rutland rule takes effect in three weeks, but Gides explained there is first a public comment period, during which anyone who's opposed to this idea can ask that it be put on hold.