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New city ordinance prohibits shortcuts

An ordinance passed by the Dickinson City Commission Monday prohibits taking shortcuts and avoiding traffic control devices, according to city documents.

Local businesses -- especially those located on corners near traffic lights and stop signs -- have complained of motorists zipping through their parking lots to avoid stop lights and signs, authorities said.

The activity will now cost motorists $20 and a point on their license, said Dickinson Police Capt. Dustin Dassinger.

Dennis Johnson, Dickinson mayor, who voted to pass the ordinance, said he has witnessed people taking shortcuts and avoiding traffic signals.

"Before it was illegal, I know I've done it," Johnson said. "I'm now remorseful that I've done it in the past and I won't do it in the future and I hope others don't, too."

Bonnie Wicka, an employee at Java Junction located in the T-Rex Plaza parking lot, said she watches it happen several times a day.

"They cut through here and some of them go way too fast, I don't like that," Wicka said.

She has worked there about seven years and said people seem to do it more than ever.

"If I'd step out in front of them, I could be killed," Wicka said. "That's what would happen if I didn't see them coming, you know. They go right by close to the coffee shop."

DPD Chief Rummel agrees it seems to be happening more often.

"At this point it's so bad that there could be somebody pulled over daily right now," he said. "We're hoping to slow all that down and make it stop, actually."

Not everyone who takes shortcuts through parking lots speeds, but officers had issues stopping even those who did, Rummel said.

"We can't enforce speeding ordinances on private property so we needed a specific ordinance to deal with this issue," he said.

Increased traffic in the city has contributed to the practice, Johnson said.

"When we had less traffic on the streets, people wouldn't get impatient and they would follow the street rather than take the shortcut," he said. It's really an unsafe practice. Be patient and stay on the street."

It may seem like a difficult ordinance to enforce, since someone could enter a parking lot to go to a business, change their mind and just drive through.

However, Rummel said officers will be able to enforce it.

"It's more obvious than that," Rummel said. "You can tell by the turning movements and by the speed at which they're going through these lots, whether or not their intent was to stop but changed their mind or not. These guys are blowing through the lot."