FOR TOWSON resident Karen Tabb, the wait at the stop sign at Loch Raven Boulevard and Hillen Road seems to last an eternity. She sees the string of cars behind her in her rearview mirror, but it doesn't matter. "They'll just have to wait," she says.
They'll just have to wait until she can clearly see the cars coming up a hill on Loch Raven Boulevard before she turns onto Hillen Road, just north of the city line.
So she waits, peeks and inches.
"The cars come up the hill very fast, and you can't see them until the last minute," said Ms. Tabb, who works in Northeast Baltimore. "It's scary because you don't want to go out there and risk getting hit."
The Intrepid One travels this intersection often and wonders why it has no traffic signal. Granted, northbound traffic on Loch Raven Boulevard is not always heavy. But, if only for the peace of mind of those turning from southbound Loch Raven onto Hillen, a signal would do wonders.
State Highway Administration spokesman Chuck Brown said the agency studied the Loch Raven Boulevard corridor -- including the Hillen Road intersection -- about a year ago and determined a signal was not warranted there.
"A light would probably cause more problems with the hill and the curve there," Mr. Brown said.
He said the light at Loch Hill Road provides enough gaps in the flow of northbound Loch Raven Boulevard traffic for southbound cars to slip through.
While we're on peek-and-inch driving, try coming out of the parking lot of the St. Stephen's Court Apartments and onto the 1900 block of Warwick Ave. in West Baltimore. Only the daring need apply.
The apartments, at North and Warwick avenues, are across from Coppin State College. Parking spaces are few and precious around the campus, and students tend to park wherever they can.
Need we say more?
The problem on Warwick Avenue is that cars -- likely belonging to Coppin students -- are parked illegally and restrict the view of drivers coming out of the apartment complex lot.
"You have to pull out too far in traffic to notice approaching cars coming from the left and right," said Shirley Gladden-Jones, a complex resident. "This has already caused one of our tenants to have his car hit by oncoming traffic."
Although signs are posted that warn against parking too close to the corner, the restriction seldom is enforced, residents said.
Your Intrepid Observer was there last week and saw three cars parked illegally -- none ticketed.
Robert Staten, a city parking control supervisor, said parking agents routinely patrol the community and ticket cars. However, he said they will step up parking enforcement in the area.
What's red, has eight sides, four white letters on it, and is hard to see at Gough and Clinton streets? OK, so it's not the best of riddles. But it's still hard to see the darn stop sign.
Your Intrepid Driver spotted it almost too late while driving north on Clinton Street in Highlandtown. It kind of sneaks up on you at a four-way stop at Gough Street as it stands behind a leafy, low-hanging tree.
True, another stop sign faces traffic across the street. But that's confusing to motorists -- especially those unfamiliar with the area -- who don't know if it is for northbound traffic or not.
"Some people come flying up Clinton [Street] and don't have any idea that there's a stop sign," said Telly White, who lives nearby. "We're just waiting for an accident. It's dangerous for anybody to drive and not know it's there."
A spokesman for the city Department of Public Works said several low branches will be pruned soon.
Even if the branches aren't cut, the sign will no doubt be easier to see in a few weeks, when all of the leaves will be on the ground.
With hope of making tomorrow a safe Halloween for all, the State Highway Administration has revived for the second year its Vests For Visibility program, in which trick-or-treaters (and their adult companions) can borrow reflective vests for the day.
The vests will be available at SHA offices, including Owings Mills, Golden Ring, Churchville, Annapolis, Dayton (in Howard County) and Marlboro (in Prince George's County). The vests are to be returned Wednesday.
"Trick-or-treaters can be difficult to see, especially if they are wearing dark costumes or clothing," said SHA Administrator Hal Kassoff. "That's why we're making our reflective vests available."