Quality of life is a cliched buzzword that has become the secular equivalent of "hallowed," the incontrovertible cathexis of modern living. It's easy to misuse in public debate, a rhetorical shield against hard fact and rational policy.
Fortunately, the quality of life argument did not hold sway with a majority of the Harford County Council Tuesday night as it voted down a proposal to close a small stretch of Old Fallston Road at the busy intersection with Route 152.
In doing so, the council avoided setting a perilous precedent, a foothold for political maneuvering by any community to close its public road for safety reasons or to preserve the tranquillity (i.e., property values) of the neighborhood.
Residents along the road that feeds into Fallston High School have an ample collection of horror stories about speeders, accidents and cars that swerve out of control onto front yards. The traffic volume and the official accident count didn't yield the numbers required to justify closing the road, however, so the county made it a quality-of-life issue. Residents along nearby streets naturally protested that they deserved similar treatment, foreshadowing a ripple effect that could clog badly needed traffic options in a rapidly growing county.
Serious safety concerns of residents along Old Fallston Road need to be addressed.
Signs restricting access off Route 152 to residents, speed bumps to slow traffic to the 25 mph limit, allowing homeowners to erect front yard fences -- these are partial solutions that could help.
Most importantly, better law enforcement of speed limits on Old Fallston could prevent the rush-hour abuses and accidents, without closing the road and opening up future policy dilemmas for traffic planners.