Number of panhandlers grows in Bowling Green

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The number of panhandlers is increasing in Bowling Green, according to Mayor Bruce Wilkerson.

A current city ordinance reads that a panhandler may stand on a public sidewalk with signage asking for money.

Although they can’t enter a street to receive the money, and a driver may not entice a panhandler into the street to take the money.

Cities can’t outlaw panhandling because it is considered protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Wilkerson has watched the number of panhandlers increase, specifically on Chestnut Street and U.S. 31 Bypass.

Cities can pass legislation such as restricting the activity to sidewalks and not in the middle of traffic.

Bowling Green has placed signage up asking people who feel inclined to give away money to instead donate it to the charities and nonprofits that provide services for the needy.

 Wilkerson said the city is open to any ideas on how to alleviate the panhandling surge.

 One panhandler told WNKY he does it so he can afford medication but admits there are many people who pretend to have a need but don’t.