A dislocation of space and time Parking: The 10-hour street meters near Penn Station have been replaced with the two-hour variety, forcing many commuters to park in expensive city garages.

Intrepid Commuter

June 24, 1996

IT USED TO BE YOU could drop about 12 quarters in a parking meter near Pennsylvania Station, hop a train and take off for a day's work or play. Then came last fall's opening of a mammoth parking garage at the railroad station and a day's parking tab jumped overnight to $12.

Intrepid has reported how those commuters were stiffed by the city government when it replaced the 10-hour, long-term meters in the first blocks of East and West Lanvale Street near the station with one- and two-hour meters, forcing commuters into the city-owned, expensive parking garage or the private off-street parking lots nearby for about $6.

One unsatisfied customer is Henry Cohen, a lawyer who daily parks near Penn Station to commute to his job in Washington. He cited the city's "arrogance" at the meter replacement in a place where commuters need to park for more than a couple of hours at a time.

The city, Cohen says, "has stolen Lanvale Street from the people of Baltimore and we must demand it back."

In February, he wrote to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, complaining that most of the shorter-term meters go unused -- a fact your Intrepid One verified a few days ago. Two cars were parked on the north side of Lanvale, while only a couple of cabbies were on the south side -- out schmoozing under a shady tree and not bothering to feed the meters while they gabbed.

Schmoke replied to Cohen on Feb. 23 that the long-term meters had been there only temporarily -- until construction of the 550-space, $14 million garage was complete. The mayor referred the matter to public works czar George G. Balog, who promised on April 12 to investigate the matter for an "equitable resolution" by the end of that month.

Cohen by last week had not received a reply from Balog's department, but Intrepid learned from a spokesman that the agency concluded its "investigation" into Metergate -- deciding to keep the shorter-term meters on Lanvale to encourage parking turnover for businesses.

Pressed by Intrepid on the number of businesses, spokesman Kurt Kocher cited a number of bars, a laundromat and the Charles Theater.

Said commuter Cohen: "I'm disappointed. I thought they'd make a better effort to reconsider. I still wonder how many commuters are parking in that garage -- how many can afford to each day."

Good question.

Intrepid invites commuter comment on their usage of the new Penn Station garage, and the alternatives.

Fact or fiction on Cub Hill?

Up in Carney, on winding Cub Hill Road, resident Jane Davenport has been doing a lot of writing. Only problem is, she believes her prose is serious stuff while county traffic officials say it's pure fiction.

The subject is traffic. The characters are drivers taking a shortcut from Glenarm to Harford Road and onto the Beltway two miles away. The story line involves those who daily speed by her house in the 2800 block of Cub Hill, a multitude of accidents and even the demolition of Davenport's two-foot-wide brick mailbox column by an errant driver.

In response to Davenport's concerns, police set up a 30-minute surveillance along Cub Hill Road in November. That study, conducted between 6: 50 a.m. and 7: 25 a.m., turned up few speeders, police said.

However, Davenport contends the presence of a marked police car prompted drivers to obey the 30 mph limit.

Nevertheless, county police disputed Davenport's speeding complaint -- even though police statistics show five accidents on Cub Hill Road in the first three months of this year, and a February radar detail that yielded four speeding citations, seven speeding warnings and six citations for other traffic violations.

Big problems arose in January with two head-on collisions on Cub Hill, and this month when a girl was hit by a car while she tried to get on a school bus.

Back to the typewriter, Davenport dove.

This time, she enlisted the aid of County Councilman Joe Bartenfelder, District 6 Democrat, whose office studied the traffic problems on Cub Hill at her insistence, then acknowledged that a problem exists.

"The Cub Hill area in general is a problem," Bartenfelder said. "I don't think that when those roads were built, they were designed to hold that kind of traffic."

Bartenfelder said he asked the county police June 7 to post another radar patrol there. Exactly when, the police wouldn't say -- but driver beware.

Dancer, hair-raising driver

Shortcuts: Who was that Baltimore police officer disco-dancing while directing traffic off Gridlock Alley at Smith Avenue and Falls Road Saturday afternoon? For that matter, who was that young man seen stretching both hands out of the sun roof of his sports car to pull hair from a hair brush while still driving the car? Dot from Towson reported this feat to your Intrepid wheelster after witnessing it on narrow, winding Bellona Avenue near the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Department. Searching for: Baltimore's best taxi stories.

Pub Date: 6/24/96

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