Our mayor, the Hon. Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, is asking some people to look into why Baltimore's revenues from speed cameras are remarkably higher than in surrounding jurisdictions. I'm not a task force, but I have a good idea why: People in Baltimore are crappy drivers.
You get ticketed in Baltimore if a speed camera catches you driving more than twelve miles an hour over the posted speed limit. Let me suggest to you that if you are not in labor or bleeding from a gunshot wound, you do not need to go more than twelve miles an hour over the posted speed limit.
Lend me one of those portable cameras to operate in my spare time out along Hillen Road and Perring Parkway near my house, and I'll bring in enough revenue to close the city's budget gap and open a couple of new recreation centers, the cost to be borne by drivers who mistake those streets for the Bonneville salt flats.
Yes, it would be a moneymaker for the city. That is the exact complaint you see in letters to the editor and columns from people puling about having been ticketed for exceeding the speed limit. I once suggested amiably that they might rather consider the ticket something like a toll on their excessive speed, but I'm growing less amiable with them.
I'd also suggest putting red-light cameras at every traffic light, and not a few stop signs. In Baltimore, a green light does not mean "go"; it means "wait ten seconds." About once a month I nearly get broadsided by people who apparently imagine that sailing through red lights indicates an Italian insouciance. Often, there's talking on their cellphones.
These people do not know how to drive. On my way to work today, I encountered three drivers in a short span of St. Paul Street who apparently never mastered the intricacies of parallel parking.
Not that pedestrians have much to recommend them, either. Many of them in Baltimore, and not just the Morgan State students, are accustomed to amble across the street against the light, daring you to hit them and provoke an expensive lawsuit.
Not fewer speed cameras, but more speed cameras. They like to drive the way they do; make them pay for it.