The company that manages the Towson Place shopping center is installing a shopping cart detection system around the perimeter of the property by summer 2020, officials said in an email.

Kimco Realty, the company that manages the shopping center, said in an email to County Councilman David Marks, who represents the Towson area, that it will be contacting its tenants to see if they’re interested in installing locks on their shopping carts. With the detection system, a cart would lock if it passes the perimeter.


Kimco said the tenants cannot be compelled to use the locks, but that some have complained recently of losing carts “so they should be incentivized to participate in the program.”

“For years, we’ve heard concerns from the community that a lot of the carts leave the complex, they go to the bus stop, or they go to the apartment complex across the street,” said Greg Reed, vice president of development for Kimco.

Reed declined to share how much it would cost Kimco to install the cart-locking system on the perimeter of the shopping center. He said installing the locks on shopping carts, though, would cost between $70 and $100 per cart, which he estimated to be four to five times cheaper than buying a new cart. Still, he said the decision to install the locking system wasn’t based on finances but rather on the nuisance of having carts in the community.

Installing the locking infrastructure would not take long and would cause only a “minor” disturbance to center traffic, he said.

Marks said he has been fielding complaints about shopping carts in neighborhoods “for years.”

In making the announcement on Facebook, he received a largely positive response, with local residents commenting they were tired of seeing carts missing or abandoned at bus stops.

Some, however, say locking carts inside a shopping center is sweeping a larger problem under the rug.

Sachin Hebbar, a Lutherville resident who sits on the Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, said locking carts can be a burden on people who rely on public transportation.

In many areas, he said, bus stops and other public transportation nodes are far from shopping centers, so those who use the transportation have to walk a considerable distance to get to their bus or light-rail stop.

“On a human level, if you’re looking at a senior citizen and they have to cross a 40-mph road like York Road to get to the bus, then how are you going to carry those groceries? It’s not rocket science,” Hebbar said.

Hebbar said better solutions for communities could be rerouting bus lines so they travel through popular shopping centers, or creating better and clearer paths from shopping centers to the nearest bus stop.

Marks said those transit and equity concerns, especially related to the Towson Place shopping center, would be addressed by a proposed Towson Circulator. The bus, he said, would have a stop at Towson Place, so people would not have to wheel shopping carts outside the center.

Carts winding up in neighborhoods, at bus stops or in apartment complex “is not the most pressing problem facing Baltimore County,” Marks said, “but it is a nuisance.”

Reed said access to public transit at Towson Place would not be issue if shopping carts were locked because a bus stop already is near the shopping center. At least three MTA bus lines — CityLink GREEN, Route 36 and Route 53 — have stops within walking distance of Towson Place.


Planning money for a Towson Circulator was included in the Baltimore County fiscal year 2020 budget, and a pilot program could be in place by 2021.