Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How Roanoke Can Clean Itself Up

Hi friends, I trust that you're well. If you are a member of our ever growing Facebook Group, then you will know that we are about a couple of different things:

#1. To help identify those in real need and to offer help but NOT give cash. 
#2. To educate the public about panhandling, how BEST to deal with it as a community, how we can get people off the streets and back into society. 
#3. To point out those that scam and only help themselves and continue to hurt the situation at hand.
One of the major problems that Roanoke currently has is it's panhandling population, since the summer of 2016, the city has seen a major jump in both professional panhandlers as well as the ones that honestly need help to get back into society. 

How can we as a community clean up the city in order to get panhandling under control and off the streets? I wanted to look at some unique ways that other areas of the United States have handled the issue and they have come up with some pretty genius methods in order to help combat the issue. 

I'd like to share with you a few ways that Roanoke can clean up the city through methods other than legal means. 


A very simple way to help educate drivers and panhandlers is to put up signage along the area hot spots where panhandling can be frequently found. Many towns and cities have created these basic metal signs and placed them in a way where motorists can read them. 

Places like Kansas City, St. Louis, Greenville and others have placed signage along the roads and that alone is helping. In a recent city report that I found for Milwaukee found that after putting up signs along the roadways, panhandling went down 29% in six months. 

While that number is not a HUGE one, that's a great step towards ending the problems they have. A cheaper router would be to buy those "real estate" style signs that are cheaper and plant them just before those hit traffic areas.

Roanoke should implement something similar by producing and installing these signs. 

From a price point comparison, it takes several city employees to even deal with one panhandler
alone, from the police that rights a ticket, they could be working on other crimes, to the courts having to deal with prosecutors, judges and payment processors, let alone warrants for those that don't pay and the like. Now, that's just ONE person, let alone roughly 40-50 that we have here in Roanoke. Imagine that one panhandler does this many times a year. That's thousands of dollars down the drain PER panhandler. Signage and installing them could cost just a few hundred bucks per, so it could actually SAVE Roanoke municipal funds in just one year.

Those are YOUR tax dollars at work, even if you don't live in Roanoke, if you shop in Roanoke, your helping by paying local taxes when you purchase things.

Intersection Modernization

One thing that cities are working on is modernizing intersections so panhandlers simply can't stand in the middle or sides of them. This involves doing things like removing the concrete centers and replacing them with large boulders, bushes that have thorns, lava rock, wider sidewalks and other things to prevent them from standing at intersections. 

Some cities are planting boxwood's along these areas in order to prevent people from standing there all along it still allows drivers to see the intersection while keeping it looking clean too. 

Another newer better model that some cities are doing is making "Round Abouts". These round intersections are actually pretty smart and they do a lot more than prevent panhandlers from scamming too. They keep traffic going in all directions which means less wait time going to your destination, they also save on electric costs from running stop lights let alone the tens of thousands of dollars you need to spend at each intersection to begin with. 

Roanoke currently has a few of these installed throughout the city and they are working great. Blacksburg for example has had them since 2011 and they actually improve traffic flow and they allow the city to move faster as you travel through it. 

A very radical idea is for local cities to actually "rent" these areas where panhandlers stand for very little money each year. Technically these leased plots of land would be considered "private property" by the person leasing the property and legally enforceable with "No trespassing" signs. The idea comes from the west coast and is starting to be looked at as it doesn't effect the Freedom of Speech laws and can be legally held up in courts. Something Roanoke might want to consider too.


You know those concrete barriers that divide the highway, you know, the ones that Roanoke panhandlers stand on when you see them?  

Well many places are removing them and leveling them off with bumps to prevent cars from going over them. 

What this does is it prevent people from standing there attempting to panhandle. It still divides the highway and it keeps drivers safe. The WORST THING we want is for someone to come along and hit a panhandler, let alone kill one. 

Being safe is key to stopping this epidemic and we want everyone safe, that includes panhandlers, even the scammers. 

Believe it or not, these measures not only make our little city safer, cleaner, it enhances our beautiful area not to mention is costs far less than people think. By including these measures, we could save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars after just 12 months. 

Now, it's YOUR turn. Head over to the Facebook Group and let us know what you think on these anti-panhandling measures or just comment below. 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent ideas! I live in Salem and this problem does not exist. You know you have reached Roanoke when you see The Panhandler!!!



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