Why car drivers just lost my support for city streets
Jul 11, 2017 at 12:25 PM
Bike advocates gather at the plaza outside of Mitchell court house to celebrate the settlement in a legal fight that preserves a Canton bike lane. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun video)
As a Baltimore resident, I have been somewhat skeptical of this whole car and vehicle lane investment the city has been building for the last 200 years ("How city bicyclists just lost my support for bike lanes," July 3). They've built them in front of my home and my neighbors' homes. My first thought, naturally, was of the inconvenience and safety issues — cars drive so fast! What if they hit my house? Or my neighbor? Or, me? But I also understand the desire of cars to have priority. They are so large, so loud and so dangerous, after all.
However, an incident that keeps occurring every day has tipped the scales. As I was making my way home, I was stuck at a standstill trying to cross the street. "What was the reason for this?" I wondered. As I got closer, the answer was evident: Hundreds of cars were riding down the street to gloat. (As they do every day now!) I can only assume that this is because of the decisions by Mayor Catherine Pugh, Gov. Larry Hogan's administration other Maryland county executives and leaders throughout the country to keep building car lanes! Nearly every day, cars clog up our streets so much that's it's become impossible for other travelers to navigate them. A few cars even crash into each other at such speeds they flip over or worse, hit other cars or travelers on our roads. Many of these drivers never, ever come to a complete stop at stop signs or obey right-on-red restrictions or reduce their speed under the marked limit. And, most shockingly of all, some drivers aren't even wearing their seat belts!
And these are folks that are concerned with safety? I wonder. By bringing all non-automobile traffic to such a standstill every day and ignoring existing traffic laws, they put themselves in danger and endanger other road users. Not to mention their cars, which get mangled and dented in all these auto accidents.
While I realize that what I see every day is probably not indicative of Baltimore's more responsible drivers, it's enough for me to to want no part of driving on the streets. Even though there are just a few drivers behaving like this, there are accidents and crashes all the time. Maybe at some point, city residents and drivers can come to a compromise that meets everyone's needs if not all their wants to make driving more safe and more safe for those not driving, like investing in alternate transportation needs. I know many people would like to not drive everywhere all the time and instead take public transit or bike or walk, and the current transit and investment in car and vehicle lanes does not come close to filling that desire. I look forward to the community input meetings which the mayor says are forthcoming to discuss this issue.