The Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) has, over the past few weeks, begun to issue citations to jaywalkers in an effort to improve traffic safety and maintain an active presence in key intersections around the Homewood campus.
This page welcomes enforcement of traffic safety laws around campus, especially at a time when pedestrian safety has become a significant concern for Hopkins. The BCPD’s initiative conveniently coincides with Hopkins’s launch of the “Road Scholar” campaign to educate students of the dangers associated with crossing roads near Homewood. The apparent objective of the BCPD effort is to decrease the likelihood of collisions between pedestrians and vehicles. But to fully accomplish such an objective, better and more conscientious behavior is required from both pedestrians and drivers.
Thus far, it seems unlikely that ticketing jaywalkers will be successful in improving pedestrian practices. Most of the police presence is focused on the intersection of St. Paul Street and 33rd Street. The student response has largely been to keep an eye out for BCPD officers at that location while continuing to carry on with their behavior. For citations to effectively deter students from jaywalking, officer presence would have to be amplified to cover multiple intersections, with around-the-clock presence and the issuing of a significantly larger number of citations. This would not only be impractical, but is also unlikely to be viewed positively by students and Charles Village residents. The practice is already being met with complaints by students who have been fined and believe $50 is too high of a charge for a first-time violation.
As for drivers, it is important to note that the increased scrutiny placed on pedestrians has not been extended to motorists. There has been no observable increase in motorists being taken to task for violating traffic safety laws, despite the documented history of irresponsible driving at the monitored intersections.
While the BCPD’s efforts have good intentions, it remains to be seen whether they will be successful in encouraging safer pedestrian behavior. Even if the desired results are achieved, safety will continue to be a concern unless drivers are also encouraged to improve as well via more stringent enforcement and increased ticketing.