Seeing red over drivers who have no conscience


DOZENS OF READERS of this column have identified numerous intersections where mad Maryland drivers run red lights on a regular basis -- with no fear of getting caught. Several readers expressed the belief that police no longer care about this problem, or feel overwhelmed and have given up trying to deter it.

One thing is clear -- there's a big anti-red-light-runner constituency out there.

There was this one palooka, though -- a red-light runner who complained in an e-mail letter that he's the victim of a law enforcement fad. He goes by BaltoChas.

"Got a ticket a few months ago for running the light at Harford Road and Ailsa," BaltoChas wrote. "Not going to dispute the facts. I did run it. When the officer presented me with the ticket, he said, 'They told us to write these for $125.' Sounds like his superiors are feeling pressure to solve the latest social problem through aggressive enforcement. Apparently the word is out on drunk driving so it's time to move on to something else. I'm going to a 'leniency hearing' in August. Wish me luck!"

Wish you luck?

If I were the judge I'd find you guilty of unmitigated gall and double the fine.

BaltoChas -- my man, may I call you Charlie? -- betrays an attitude that prevails on the road: "I'm in a hurry and, as the most important person on this planet, I have a right to blow red lights if they delay my mission."

Charlie doesn't quite see the safety issue, does he? Apparently, he thinks police should busy themselves with other things. For him, running red lights is some kind of social problem. And you know what? He could be right. Maybe this is a job for social workers. People who run red lights probably could use some serious counseling.

Anyway, I'm glad ol' Charlie mentioned Harford Road. It leads the TJI reader survey of better-dead-than-red intersections. Here's the list, offered here in the hopes that police pay more attention.


Harford Road and 25th Street; Harford Road and Walther Avenue; Harford Road and Echodale; Harford Road and Rosalie; Lombard and Calvert; Bellona and Northern Parkway; Belvedere and The Alameda; St. Paul and 25th Street; Charles and 25th Street; Wolfe Street and North Avenue; Northern Parkway and Roland Avenue; North Avenue and Maryland Avenue; Cold Spring Lane and Tamarind Road; Calvert Street and University Parkway.

Harford County:

Tollgate Road and Route 24; U.S. 1 and Route 24.

Baltimore County:

Rolling Road and U.S. 40; Route 43 and Honeygo Boulevard.

Howard County:

U.S. 40 and St. John's Lane.

Doggone difficult

We had to scratch our heads at this incomprehensible bumper sticker: "Agility makes my dog smile." Wha? Being agile makes the dog smile? Watching agile people makes it smile? Smiling is a function of dog agility? How often do dogs smile, anyway?... A sign of hope on East Preston Street: Someone installing a new set of white marble steps. ... Walter Sondheim, 89 years old and the city's wisest owl, on his first attempt at the just-opened, great-fun Art Links miniature golf course on Rash Field: "Just call me Tiger Wouldn't."

Courtesy? Don't bank on it

Some people still haven't learned that banks, especially the big ones, don't really want walk-in business anymore. David Herstein of Pikesville, for instance, still operates under the assumption that the big, interstate banks want to personally serve their customers with efficiency and respect. So, here's his horror story:

"I was the only customer at the time. I made a cash deposit for my daughter and was told that there might be a charge for that service. When I asked, 'Can I have the current balance on my account?' the teller said, 'You can get that information on the 24-hour telephone number.' I responded, 'Is that yes or no? Can I get the balance or not?' The teller said that normally they charge for that, too, but that she would make an exception and give me the information. During the whole two minutes that this took, the woman was curt, as if she had better things to do than help me."

Stuffing money in mattresses becomes more appealing all the time, doesn't it?

Surprised by kindness

The Whistlestop Bookstore on Mount Airy's Main Street is a gathering spot where customers frequently chat up the best sellers. Sherri Gulli was there the other day staring hard at a popular romance, when another female customer asked if it was good.

"I haven't read it yet, but the author is great," Gulli told the stranger. "Still, for $25, I'll have to wait for the paperback."

Moments later, the stranger bought the book and gave it to Gulli, asking only that she send it back when she was finished with it. Then, the stranger said, it would be her turn to read it -- while undergoing radiation therapy for cancer.

The book, and any other items tainted by radiation, would have to be destroyed. "She told me," Gulli said, "that she wanted someone else to have the pleasure of reading it first."

Guests make a splash

TJI reader Spence Coleman reports ducks in his Catonsville backyard swimming pool. Twice, two ducks splashed down at sunrise to swim and do what ducks do -- preen, I think it is -- dry off and take off. The visits only lasted about 30 minutes. "I can only imagine the scene if we were to have a diving board," Spence says. "Perhaps if I had put out lounge chairs early, our guests might have sat, relaxed, sunned themselves and stayed around longer."

Call home to Barry

To the many, many, many TJI readers who have called here with stories, leads and plot suggestions for Barry Levinson as he steps toward his latest semiautobiographical film venture, "Liberty Heights," you are advised that the award-winning director has a home page ( and his Baltimore Pictures is based at Warner Bros. Studios. It's not like I see the guy every poker night, you know?

Pub Date: 6/29/98

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