By Jeffrey H. Marks
The Baltimore Sun's article "Walk this Way" is right in pointing out that a comprehensive program with a director and budget is needed to reduce the County's high rate of pedestrian fatalities. As the Sun states, other jurisdictions like Ocean City mounted a campaign to reduce pedestrian fatalities - at a cost of $400,000. The result was that the number of pedestrian crashes was cut in half!
It's unacceptable for Exec Kamenetz to simply blame these crashes on the pedestrian by saying that he failed to use the crosswalk. When someone takes the bus or walks, the nearest crosswalk may be 1/2 mile away. Is it reasonable to expect the pedestrian to walk an extra mile to cross the street? And even if the pedestrian uses the crosswalk, the motorist may still fail to yield..
Baltimore County needs a comprehensive plan that involves pedestrian and motorist education, police enforcement, and engineering to improve safety. The County should design Complete streets that accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars; rather than just cars. The County should follow the City's good example of gradually accommodating non motorized travel; including bike paths, bikelanes , wide curblanes, and even rebuilding a hazardous stretch of Charles Street near the Johns Hopkins Univ campus. If the City, with its lower tax base, can design complete streets, why not the County? I thank the first responders (fire, police, and rescue personnel) for taking the lead in urging the County to make our streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Please hear our plea, Exec Kamenetz.