Fox Point to require reflective clothing for nighttime pedestrians

Jan. 15, 2014

Fox Point — In an effort to keep walkers and joggers safe at night amid the village's darkened rural characteristics, Fox Point officials this week voted to adopted an ordinance requiring reflective clothing.

The ordinance, drafted by Village Attorney Eric Larson, outlines a number of provisions that will go into effect March 1. Pedestrians will have to adhere to the same standards already in place for bicyclists under state statutes and in-line skaters under a previous village ordinance.

The new document will require pedestrians wear some form of reflective clothing, use reflectors or have a flashlight on hand in an attempt to ensure motorists are able to see people traversing along roadways.

While the board stated it believes most of the village's residents safeguard themselves at night with proper attire, concerns continue to be raised.

"I think this has been a problem for a long time," said Village President Mike West, who suggested the ordinance be written and adopted. "I have seen people walking black dogs, attired in all black or navy blue. I think we need to do this."

West's proposal had the backing of Village Manager Melissa Bohse and Police Chief Tom Czaja. The new ordinance does give the Fox Point Police Department the authority to enforce the reflectivity requirement upon pedestrians.

While police likely would only issue a verbal warning on the first offense, pedestrians not complying with the ordinance could eventually be cited for chronic instances.

Because the village lacks street lighting and sidewalks, Czaja, in a memo, said he believed the ordinance would be good for the community.

"I have been the police chief in Fox Point for almost 18 years, and I have driven the streets... during all types of lighting conditions," Czaja wrote in his memo. "I, and my officers, can attest to the fact that it is very difficult to see pedestrians wearing dark clothing during hours of darkness."

Czaja added, "To exacerbate the problem, most roads in Fox Point are narrow."

While the board unanimously favored moving forward with the ordinance, several trustees scrutinized language within the document — including what constituted a roadway and specifically what type of attire should be worn.

The ordinance does not apply to any walking paths within the village. It does permit pedestrians to wear reflective vests, if desired, or any other clothing that can be seen at night.

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