Here's where the city's speed cameras lurk
Last month Baltimore added nearly two dozen locations that will from time to time be equipped with portable speed cameras. Those locations, all in school zones as required by state law, join the city's existing 50 fixed speed camera locations.
Some folks have been surprised by the sudden presence of such cameras, expecting a grace period such as that offered in Baltimore County. According to Adrienne Barnes, spokeswoman for the city Transportation Department, the city's view is that it provided its grace period last year when it launched the program. Now, for reasons of spite no doubt, it's expecting citizens to obey the law.
School zones are defined in law as anywhere within a half-mile of a school, and in a compact city like Baltimore that means most of its land mass falls within a potential speed camera area. The prudent approach is simply to respect the speed limit -- or at least refrain from exceeding it by the 12 mph that will trigger a camera -- anywhere within the city limits. Those who travel, say, 40 on a 25-mph residential street do so at the peril of a well-deserved $40 ticket.
There are those who indulge the paranoid fantasy that this is all being done to raise money and that it has nothing to do with safety. Believe it or not, there's one sure way of keeping the "gummint" from grabbing your dollars: Drive safely. That's worked in other places, where the initial haul has dropped dramatically because people do learn to slow sown.
Actually, Barnes said many of the city's speed cameras are deployed at the request of residents of the blocks that are being used as drag strips. So if you get nailed near your home, you might have your neighbors to thank for it. Barnes said her department is being swamped with requests for the cameras and other traffic-calming devices.
There are still a few areas around the city where a driver can probably get in a few zoom-zooms without being nailed by a camera. Broening Highway down by the marine terminals is far from institutes of learning, but you might get to see the human face of speed enforcement in a Maryland Transportation Authoriity Police uniform. Then there's the industrial Fairfield peninsula, where there are no cameras and few cops but where the roads themselves could cost speeders more than any ticket would.