Dunwoody City Council members pulled the levers Oct. 14 to slow the pace on passage of a proposed ordinance to add protections to cyclists and pedestrians beyond what state law requires.

The council voted at 5-1 to wait until November before voting on the proposed “vulnerable road user” law. If approved, Dunwoody would become the first city in Georgia with a VRU.

Councilmember Tom Lambert, sponsor of the legislation, voted against deferral because he wanted to vote Oct. 14. Councilmember Pam Tallmadge was absent.

The law would mirror much of what the state law says when it comes to protecting cyclists and pedestrians, such as ticketing a motorist for not stopping for pedestrians in a crosswalk. It prohibits motorists from throwing objects at cyclists, of driving too close to try to intimidate them and of turning right in front of them.

The city’s version adds enhanced penalties for violators. They could be sentenced to up to six months in jail, made to pay up to a $1,000 fine and have their driver’s license suspended. The penalties could be waived if the motorist takes a court-mandated driving class.

Mayor Denis Shortal said at the Oct. 14 meeting he thought the penalties were too severe, especially for first-time offenders. Teaching local residents about the law would be hard, he said. Teaching the law to those passing through the city would also be a challenge, he said.

Shortal also said he believed the new law if enacted could be “making criminals out of very good citizens.”

Lambert agreed with a recommendation by Councilmember Lynn Deutsch that if the new law is approved, there be a 6-month education and awareness campaign to give time for people to learn about it before it goes into effect.

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