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Baltimore should ban digital billboards, not welcome them | READER COMMENTARY

People look at a video billboard featuring fugitives wanted by the FBI in New York's Times Square. (File/Associated Press).
People look at a video billboard featuring fugitives wanted by the FBI in New York's Times Square. (File/Associated Press). (Drew/AP)

Downtown Baltimore needs a lot of things but digital signs are not one among them (“Here’s why downtown Baltimore needs digital signs,” Oct. 13). I appreciate Downtown Partnership’s effort to create guidelines for the signage such as trying to ensure that 15 to 20% of the screen time showcases art and local businesses, but that means that 80 to 85% of the time we’ll be forced to view tacky flashing ads for insurance or orange juice. Times Square, this is not.

In her letter to the editor, Shelonda Stokes, president of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, claims that video districts “attract people and improve the pedestrian experience.” I have a hard time believing how blinking advertisements accomplish either of those things. If anything, these signs pose a danger to pedestrians from drivers distracted by the ever-changing displays.

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I did not know that local buildings can already request these types of signs, and I am glad that Downtown Partnership at least hopes to establish some standards. But perhaps a better solution would be to bar them entirely and focus instead on other types of public art that truly attract people, improve the pedestrian experience and better reflect the citizens of Baltimore.

Joe Sugarman, Baltimore

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