Baltimore, MD - July 17, 2017- Although I am a longtime resident of Baltimore City, I found The Pikesville-Greenspring Community Coalition’s (PGCC’s) Traffic and Safety Committee/Neighborhood and Pedestrian Safety meeting, held yesterday, to be most informative and interesting. Perhaps, because it raised several safety issues that are not exclusive to Baltimore County residents.

What I found particularly fascinating was the discussion inspired by the Q & A session following the program held at Congregation Ohel Moshe, which is located in the heart of the Smith Avenue corridor-- the subject of the gathering. The shul’s Rav, Rabbi Zvi Teichman, opened the program by mentioning that preserving safety is a commandment that is reiterated many times in the Torah.

In attendance was Baltimore County’s Second District Councilwoman Vicki Almond and Baltimore County’s Department of Public Works’ Director Steven Walsh—both of whom addressed the meeting, following introductory remarks presented by PGCC President Maxine Seidman.

David Feldman, Co-Chair of the PGCC Traffic and Safety Committee addressed the audience about pedestrian and neighborhood safety in the County, noting, “Every year, there are more than 400 EMS responses to pedestrian-involved crashes in Baltimore County; and, in the vast majority of the cases – between 80 and 90 percent – the police determine that the crash was the pedestrian’s fault.” 

Mr. Feldman also brought attention to the problem of texting while driving, suggesting, “Given how prevalent texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving have become, you might even want to think about organizing, taking a stand, and demanding that our state legislators in Annapolis make “the penalties fit the crime,” ones that are much more of a deterrent than those that are currently on the books.”

Finally, Mr. Feldman educated the audience about what the Traffic and Safety Committee can do—how it reaches out to the residents of PGCC-member communities on a regular basis to hear homeowners’ concerns that it might help them address.  Examples include: a sign warning of a crosswalk ahead or another safety-related sign is down and needs to be replaced; a hedge at a corner that has grown so large that drivers cannot safely make turns because their view is obstructed; vehicles driven at excessive speeds on a member-resident’s street may be the rule, not the exception, and, because of drivers who speed, residents cannot cross the street safely; and the need for a traffic circle or rumble strips, a new traffic signal or crosswalk, lanes repainted, or any number of other improvements to pedestrian safety. 

“These are all things that have been addressed successfully with relevant County and State officials, thanks to the Traffic and Safety Committee,” notes Mr. Feldman. “From time to time, residents of member communities are invited to meet with Steve Walsh and his senior staff, together with our District Director of the State Highway Administration, Wendy Wolcott, and her senior staff.  These meetings are also typically attended by Councilwoman Almond and one or more of members of our delegation to the General Assembly in Annapolis.  Attendance at these meetings provides an opportunity for residents of our member communities to present their concerns directly to the officials who can take care of their problems.  And coming out in greater numbers really gets the attention of decisionmakers.  The larger the group pushing for action, the more likely it is to occur.”

To stay abreast of neighborhood crime trends, says Mr. Feldman, the committee is also a member of the Police and Community Relations Council for the Pikesville Precinct, attends the Council’s monthly meetings, and reports back on what it learns to the extent it is relevant to its member communities and their residents. 

Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Hebrew Congregation President Jeffrey Forman followed Mr. Feldman, who informed the audience how his shul solved its traffic and sidewalk safety issues with the help of the PGCC . Perhaps, most obvious, is the new traffic circle at the corner of Old Pimlico Road and Rockland Hills Drive.

Q & A questions led to discussions centered on uneven sidewalks, a lack of sidewalks and curb cut ramps for wheelchair-accessibility in some areas, the dangers of narrow roads for cyclists and runners, drivers texting while driving, speeding, and not stopping at stop signs, the need for more crosswalks on Smith Avenue and other long streets, getting school children involved in an anti-texting campaign, and the extremely dangerous accident-prone Willowglen/Sanzo intersection at the city-county line.

A couple of attendees brought up safety concerns they had, particularly on Shabbos night and motzei Shabbos, when our community members who are dressed in black are not easily visible to drivers.  A suggestion was made by an audience member that Rabbis or shul presidents suggest to their congregants the need to wear reflective safety clothing, as cyclists and runners should.

After the meeting, David Feldman shared, “We are really hoping that community members will continue to stick together, organize themselves on a neighborhood basis, and find ways, working together and with others, to have their voices heard more effectively.  PGCC stands ready to support those efforts.”

Vicki Almond added, “I think if we got anything out of today, it was that we need community associations; we need communities talking to each other and just forming a bond because there is strength in numbers, and I think that it is really important for people to realize that they can get a whole lot more done for their community if they are active in their association.”

Rabbi Teichman concluded, “It was good to see a full complement of the neighborhood joining in a common effort to express similar concerns and raise consciousness about things that not only we can ask but we can do for ourselves to enhance safety. Hopefully by joining our efforts together we can enhance the safety of our neighborhoods.”

To voice your Baltimore County traffic and safety concerns, contact Baltimore County Department of Public Works Director Steven Walsh at 410-887-3306, or Councilwoman Vicki Almond’s office, by calling 410-887-3385 or emailing      

For more information about PGCC membership, or organizing your Smith Avenue corridor neighborhoods to address safety issues more effectively, contact PGCC President Maxine Seidman at 410-952-9115, or