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Baltimore and the fear factor [Letter]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

I heartily agree with Eileen Pollock when she says that she can't overstate how pleasant Baltimoreans are ("Baltimore is no New York," Jan.14). I moved to Baltimore from out of state seven years ago and have been struck by the friendliness and helpfulness of everyone.

Ms. Pollock then proceeds to make some generalizations about daily life in Baltimore, unsupported by evidence, and seems to contradict her initial description of the city as a relaxed, friendly place.

She says Baltimore is totally car dependent while New York is easy to navigate on public transportation. Baltimore, in fact, has a comprehensive bus service throughout the city which is an excellent way to get around or commute. She says that the subway can be a hazardous mode of transportation for a woman alone. Like hundreds of other women, I ride buses or the subway alone with no more concern for my safety than I've had doing likewise in other sizable cities in the United States and Europe. She says she doesn't feel safe downtown. Yet from my observation during daytime or evening hours, thousands of people apparently do. She names various concert venues that she doesn't feel safe visiting and parking near. However, from what I've seen, evening events are well attended.

In my opinion, Ms. Pollock's reference to "Baltimoreans who made the rational decision to live in the suburbs, far from violence" is little short of stoking fear. If we want to encourage re-urbanization of our city, then it is surely incumbent on Baltimoreans of every ethnic and socioeconomic background to get used to rubbing shoulders with each other in the city streets and public spaces. To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt, the "only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Fiona Edelstein, Baltimore

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