A city in Missouri could be close to taking a firm stand against catcalling.
According to the Kansas City Star, Councilman John Sharp of Kansas City is backing an ordinance that would make street harassment punishable within the city limits.
Whether it's crude remarks shouted from car windows at mothers walking their kids to school, or bicyclists nearly squeezed off the road by angry motorists not interested in sharing it, such all-too-common acts of intimidation do more than make the targets fearful.
According to the Kansas City Star, catcalling and street harassment "undermine initiatives aimed at fighting obesity and encouraging alternative forms of transportation." Not to mention it's a completely shitty thing to do to women that makes them feel vulnerable and often terrified to walk in public spaces.
"We're encouraging people to walk and bike more," Sharp said. "They certainly ought to be allowed to do that without harassment....What we're aiming at is the most threatening and dangerous behavior."
Here is part of the proposed ordinance:
Sec. 50-205. Harassment of a Bicyclist, Pedestrian or Wheelchair Operator
No person shall, for the purpose of frightening or injuring any person riding a bicycle, walking, running, or operating a wheelchair:
(1) Throw an object, direct a projectile, or operate a vehicle at or in such person's direction; or
(2) Threaten such person; or
(3) Sound a horn, shout or otherwise direct loud or unusual sounds toward such person; or
(4) Place such person in apprehension of immediate physical danger; or
(5) Engage in conduct that creates a risk of death or serious physical injury to such person.
The penalty for violation includes a fine or a 180 day sentence. Sounds like they are pretty serious about cracking down on something that no one should be doing ever for any reason at all.
The thing about this ordinance, from what I can gather, is it's about stopping motorists from yelling at people who are biking/walking. The city is trying to actively encourage people to use alternate modes of transportation, but the feedback they've gotten is basically "yeah, we'd love to do that but we get constantly yelled at and harassed by motorists." Bicyclists in the community were especially vocal about this. They basically want people to stop yelling and being obnoxious to pedestrians/bicyclists so those people who are choosing alternate means of transportation won't feel threatened.
The issue is currently in the hands of the city council's public safety committee, which will meet on Sept. 25 to discuss the measure. Once it moves out of committee, the city council could vote on the ordinance as soon as Sept. 26.
Image via Shutterstock.