Back in the halcyon days of the automobile, it’s safe to say that many people were more concerned about making way for the new horseless carriages and less worried for the pedestrians who were quickly becoming outnumbered by those new “motor vehicles.” With few vehicles on the roads, traffic accidents were also an infrequent occurrence, though occasionally just as deadly as today’s car, bus and commercial trucking wrecks.
As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we understand how circumstances can place a pedestrian, cyclist or passenger car occupant in a serious traffic accident. While persons who are riding in a vehicle have a relatively good chance of surviving a roadway collision, those on foot or riding a bicycle have the odds stacked against them. Road accidents take many innocent lives every year in cities like Annapolis, Gaithersburg and the District. All we can do is advise caution at all times whenever you are in or near motor vehicle traffic.
For a while now, the planners for Baltimore County have been working on better and safer access for joggers, runners, bicyclists and all other pedestrians who share the road with cars and trucks. With input from numerous private citizens and other concerned parties, the county has been drafting the Western Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Access Plan.
Described by officials as an action plan for the construction of pedestrian and bicycle access to the county’s western urban areas in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th County Council Districts, the proposal is being developed by a committee of technical advisors, with representation from many areas including the local community, and state and county government.
By identifying specific projects to be implemented, the plan provides for supportive encouragement, educational programs, as well as anticipated enforcement needs. Areas of specific interest to many recreational and sport cyclists, walkers, joggers and runners, as well as everyday pedestrians are outlined in the latest version of the plan.
Although current traffic laws provide bicycle riders with the ability to travel on most any of the county’s roadways, the creators for this plan understand that the design of many Baltimore County roads, as well as the dense traffic conditions and typical attitude of motor vehicle operators against cyclists have tended to, in the words of the planners, “discourage bicycling.”
Hopefully, by providing a range of improvements to existing streets and roadways, the new arrangement will help to accommodate bicycles in an environment heretofore dominated by motor vehicles. Naturally, any of these improvements, of which there will likely need to be many, will depend on the current width and other physical limitations of the existing streets, plus the speeds and volume of car and truck traffic.
There is too much content to be simply covered in this limited forum. But suffice it say that the day of a kinder, gentler cycling and pedestrian environment here in Baltimore County may be closer than ever before. In the meantime, keep your guard up and be careful near auto traffic. Anyone who enjoys the sport or pastime of bicycling will want to be around for its debut here in the city; and pedestrians, of course, will likely welcome any significant improvements to public safety.