I don't mean to pick on Dresser's Sun column, but it's just so easy to do. I'm sorry that the Sun does not always conveniently publish his columns on their website though.
Today, Dresser lauds some Hopkins students who designed a pedestrian bridge from the campus across Charles Street to improve safety.
First of all, is that what we want? To make our important urban streets more desolate by keeping pedestrians away from them? After all, bridges can't be built everywhere there are pedestrians. Ironically, the students were originally inspired by a pedestrian death on St. Paul, not Charles.
Second of all, Dresser says the students would be "disappointed" that instead of a bridge, the city wants to do "comprehensive redesign" of Charles Street instead. You'd think that would make people happy, improving things along the whole street instead of just at one point above the street up in the air .
Thirdly, Dresser enumerates the city's proposed improvements - "better defined crosswalks,improved signage and lighting". However, those things have nothing to do with the design of a street in the first place. One does not need to spend many millions rebuilding a street to provide better markings, signs, and lights.
Then beyond that, many changes have already been made to the operation of the street since the whole planning process for the street began in 2003. The moronic southbound lane striped in the northbound side of the road (dubbed the "suicide lane") has finally been eliminated, correcting a previous traffic engineering screw-up. Parking has been increased drastically - far more than what will be provided in the proposed new street. A large number of trees will also be cut down.
Could it be that this big rebuilding project isn't going to make the street better after all?
Our experience two miles south on Charles is instructive. After it was rebuilt in front of Penn Station, the street was made far more dangerous and had far less parking than it did before. The City rebuilt the street physically, but in so doing, created new traffic engineering screw-ups in need of fixing. Combine that with the construction spillover of the Angelos Law School and the shabby way the U of B treats Oliver Street and we have an extremely hostile environment.
Baltimore is too poor to be spending many millions this way.