Anne Arundel police target pedestrian, bicycle safety in wake of fatal crashes

With eight pedestrians and one bicyclist killed by motor vehicles this year in Anne Arundel County, police are tackling the issue with a special operation in the eastern area of the county, where four pedestrians were killed.

"The goal is education and enforcement, but mostly education," said Justin Mulcahy, police spokesman.

Officers will stop motorists, pedestrians and cyclists they see violating the rules of the road, he said. That includes drivers ignoring bicycle lanes and pedestrians who jaywalk. Officers will mostly give warnings but will be writing citations as well.

County police said they are focusing — but not exclusively — on roads where vehicles have struck pedestrians and bicyclists. Targeted areas include Hospital Drive near Crain Highway in Glen Burnie and Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena as far north as the Baltimore City line. Other roads getting special attention include Jumpers Hole Road and Ritchie Highway, police said.

Police have not seen a pattern to the incidents in which people on foot or on bicycles were killed or injured, Mulcahy said. But the overall number of hit-and-runs seems to be on the rise, he said.

Of the nine incidents, five remain under investigation, one resulted in a driver pleading guilty to failing to stay at the accident scene, and three were closed with no charges against the drivers, said Deputy State's Attorney William Roessler.

State Highway Administration officials, who compile crash statistics, say drivers are at fault in about half the accidents involving pedestrians statewide, and the number of fatal incidents is worrisome.

"For the last several years, we have seen a decrease in total traffic fatalities. But what concerns us is that we have not seen the same decrease for pedestrian fatalities," said Peter Moe, the agency's pedestrian traffic safety coordinator.

The hit-and-runs are especially troubling, Moe said, because fleeing drivers "may be able to render aid to that pedestrian and keep them alive."

Many police departments regularly ratchet up education and enforcement for pedestrians and bicyclists around the beginning and end of the school year, sometimes as part of State Highway Administration programs.

They also target specific locations after an increased number of crashes and complaints from the community.

Baltimore County police did that last week along Liberty Road, from Old Court Road to the Baltimore city line, said Detective Cathleen Batton.

She said Baltimore County has had five pedestrian fatalities this year. In one, police determined that the driver was not at fault, though she was charged with alcohol-related offenses. No charges have been filed in the other incidents, she said.

Anne Arundel County has seen a slight increase in the number of pedestrians killed from 2006 to 2010. There were nine in 2006, 13 in 2009 and 12 in 2010, according to the State Highway Administration.

The number of pedestrians injured in the county was 197 each in 2006 and 2010.

The number of fatal crashes in the county involving a bicycle during that period was one in 2006 with one more in 2009, but there were none in 2007, 2008 or 2010. The total number of cyclists hurt dropped from 71 to 54 during that five-year period.

Anne Arundel police are still trying to track down drivers in two fatal hit-and-run incidents that occurred this summer.

About 8 a.m. July 14, bicyclist Alex Canales Hernandez of Brooklyn was struck by a car while trying to cross the northbound lanes of Ritchie Highway near Bon Air Avenue in Brooklyn Park. Police suspect he might have been hit by a dark maroon sport utility vehicle spotted in a surveillance video. The SUV went into the parking lot at 5801 Ritchie Highway and was last seen eastbound on Walton Avenue. Police think the vehicle would have had damage to the front passenger side and that the driver may have been a black woman wearing pink medical scrubs.

Anne Arundel County police are also looking for the driver whose vehicle struck James Frederick Schreiber Jr. of Pasadena about 8 a.m. Aug 24 on Route 100 near the Oakwood Road exit in Glen Burnie. Police said Schreiber, a tow truck driver, was preparing to tow a disabled sewage truck when he was struck, probably by a 1987 to 1995 Nissan Pathfinder, possibly red.

Police described the driver as a thin white man in his 30s with a crew cut or short brown hair. Police suspect the Nissan sustained extensive damage to the passenger side front fender and lights, and that it may be missing a hubcap and have a broken passenger side mirror.


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