"At certain key intersections in high pedestrian traffic areas in business districts, pedestrians do not even receive a walk signal at all unless they press a button," she wrote. "Walkers are waiting for unreasonable periods of time to cross the street and often through two cycles of the light if they do not press the button in time."

In an interview, Smith, the mother of three young children, said the recent changes have been especially hard on pedestrians with kids in tow.

"People with small children are especially sensitive to these issues," she said. "I feel like every time you get to an intersection now, it's giving you the message that this intersection is meant for cars and not for walkers."

That, she said, is a violation of the Complete Streets policy recently adopted by the City Council.

Smith made the point that pedestrian buttons are appropriate for intersections with low pedestrian traffic. But Fells Point, she said, has some of the heaviest foot traffic in the city.

To its credit, the city has not blown off the complaints of Smith and other Southeast Baltimore parents. Late last week, city deputy transportation director Jamie Kendrick was scheduled to meet with residents to jointly observe how recent changes are affecting pedestrian traffic.

Drinking and riding MARC

Unlike travelers on the Maryland Transit Administration's other services, riders on the MARC commuter trains have long enjoyed the privilege of consuming adult beverages while aboard. But there has been enough bad behavior recently that MARC director John Hovatter sent out a warning to riders not to abuse the MTA's hospitality.

MTA spokesman Terry Owens said he knows of no incidents that have resulted in an arrest, but he said the agency has heard enough complaints from crew members and passengers that Hovatter decided to send a message, which said in part:

"While consumption of alcoholic beverages is permitted on MARC trains, passengers are reminded that this must be done responsibly. We have seen an increase in the number of complaints about alcohol consumption on trains and disruptive behavior that has included loud talking, profanity, and in some cases, physical altercations that [have] been associated with drinking.

"Consumption of alcohol on MARC trains is a privilege, not a right. The MARC Train Service reserves the right to restrict alcohol consumption if passenger behavior is not appropriate and remove from the train those individuals that fail to abide by MARC rules and guidelines. This includes the use of profanity, refusal to follow instructions from conductors, and intimidation or threats to other passengers."

Beer lovers of MARC, unite! Flaunt your moderation, and don't let a few fools spoil a good deal.

michael.dresser@baltsun.com