Letter to the Editor

Vol. 8, No. 7
February 17-23, 2000
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Sherwood’s Death Must Produce Results

Dear Bay Weekly:

My three sons and I want to thank you for all your concern (and your commentary and editorial) during my family’s continuing time of sorrow. The violent accidental death of Betty Sherwood on Jan. 28 must produce results to help prevent another pedestrian being hit by a vehicle and killed on Benfield Road in Severna Park.

Some clarifications: The brief police summary issued to the press that day of the fatal accident stated that Betty was walking “outside a crosswalk.”

This poorly worded statement leads one to believe that there is a crosswalk at Benfield Road and Kensington Avenue when there isn’t — but should be. The nearest marked crosswalk is a quarter-mile away at Jumpers Hole Road. We have received disturbing calls asking why Betty was walking outside of the marked crosswalk when there isn’t one there. There are, by the way, 21 exits and entrances in this quarter-mile stretch to accommodate vehicles.

I could go on, but I’ll keep it short. Your editorial states that a traffic engineering study will be undertaken, but it was traffic engineering and out-of-control commercial strip zoning that got us into this mess in the first place. Also remember former County Executive John Gary once actually proposed to turn Benfield Road into a four-lane highway. Severna Park residents stopped that insanity, and it will be Severna Park residents who will demand a crosswalk and flashing lights at this death trap.

Traffic engineers say that flashing lights “don’t slow drivers down,” you say, quoting one of them. Then why are they still being installed? Aren’t there flashing yellow lights at fire stations (which eventually turn red) to warn motorists to slow down for out-coming fire trucks? Maybe flashing lights (which do not turn red) might give a warning to speeding, reckless motorists of a marked pedestrian crossing ahead. On this portion of Benfield, people regularly hit 45 and 50mph (the speed limit is 35) and police know it.

Residents of the Kensington community cross regularly at this point to get to the stores, shops and gas station on the other side of Benfield. No one hikes to the marked crosswalk a quarter-mile away to cross the street. It just doesn’t happen. And I challenge these traffic engineers to come up with one citation given a pedestrian for crossing this stretch of Benfield Road at an unmarked crosswalk. That’s how pedestrians get to the other side.

The county allowed developers to slap up all these strip malls, and the county should provide pedestrians (as well as vehicles) a safe way to get to them.

By the way, the middle lane of the three-lane Benfield is a turning lane, not a passing lane, although it is often used as one.

—Jack Sherwood, Severna Park

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly