Baltimore County Now
Lt. Steve Troutman, Baltimore County Police Crash Team Leader
Battalion Chief Jennifer Utz, Baltimore County Fire Department
Now that summer is here, people are getting out and about more. Sadly, the beautiful June weather means more people will be seriously hurt - or killed - just crossing the street.
It’s not usually who you think, or for the reasons you think…
There are some common misconceptions when it comes to pedestrian crashes. Most people tend to assume that the crash is caused by the person behind the wheel. That is normally NOT the case. Plus, it’s more often an adult rather than a child who is struck.
In fact, 80% of these incidents are actually caused by the pedestrian. Many of these fatal crashes are results of:
· Failure to walk in crosswalks or obey crosswalk signals
· Distracted walking
· Failure to look both ways
· Wearing dark clothing while walking at night
You might be even more surprised to know that 60% of those killed last year in pedestrian-vehicle crashes were over the age of 40. That’s right, we’re not just talking about distracted students or young children; most pedestrian infractions are committed by adults.
Tragically, in recent years, Baltimore County is experiencing a significant increase in the number of serious pedestrian crashes. Each year, the Baltimore County Police and Fire Departments respond to about 420 pedestrian-vehicle crashes - that’s more than one accident every day, on average! In 2013, the number of fatal crashes in Baltimore County increased more than in the last five years.
Though pedestrian related crashes are prevalent throughout Baltimore County, there are particular areas where rates are higher, such as Liberty Road in Randallstown, York Road in Towson, and Merritt Boulevard in Dundalk. Each of these areas has high volumes of traffic, which can result in greater chances of injury. There are also large numbers of pedestrian crashes near bus stops, as pedestrians can sometimes focus more on making the bus or rushing home than on their own safety.
With the drastic increase in pedestrian accidents in the last few years, Baltimore County is launching a “Heads Up! Walk Safe” public awareness campaign, focusing on four simple reminders:
· Obey the Law: always cross at a crosswalk or intersection
· Avoid Distractions: put away the cell phones and other electronic devices while crossing
· Be Visible: when walking or running at night, wear bright colors
· Be Aware: be mindful of your surroundings and know when a vehicle is approaching
Find out more on the County’s Walk Safe web page. On behalf of our fellow first responders, please walk safely and don’t be our next crash victim!
Edited by Justin Tucker, Baltimore County Office of Communications Intern
Chairman, Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee
Now that spring has finally sprung, it's time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. What better way to enjoy the fresh air than to put on your walking shoes or dust off your bike and take a ride.
Baltimore County began the process of transforming itself into a more walkable and bike-friendly community by developing pedestrian and bicycle improvement plans. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC), working with the County Department of Planning, recommended areas where sidewalks, bike lanes and other types of improvements could be made. The PBAC is composed of enthusiasts representing each council district, the county administration, and Bike Maryland, a local advocacy group.
So far, the County has received State funding through the Maryland Bikeways program to stripe bicycle lanes and install bike route signs in Catonsville, Arbutus/Halethorpe, and Towson. If more State funding becomes available this year, even more improvements can be made throughout the County.
Here’s where you can help. We are looking for projects that would be low cost, connect to major destinations, and have the support of the local community. The PBAC committee’s first public input meeting will be held April 16, 5:00 p.m., at the Jefferson Building, Room 104, 105 West Chesapeake Avenue, Towson 21204. If you have a great idea but can't make the meeting, send in a written suggestion to the PBAC, c/o Department of Planning, 105 West Chesapeake Avenue, Towson 21204, or email Kathy Schlabach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Successes from Catonsville, Arbutus/Halethorpe, and Towson will help us become eligible for additional grant funds to develop plans in other parts of the County.
While you are dusting off that bicycle, keep in mind that Bike to Work Day will be coming up May 17. Details about the early morning rallies in Catonsville, Towson and White Marsh will be coming out soon.
But let us hear from you on April 16. Together we can make Baltimore County a better place to be outside, year-round. Now let’s get walking and biking for our enjoyment, health, and as a greener way to get places.