Between The Lines

October 18, 2004

Not-so-vicious cycles

Lisa Hurka Covington, a Rodgers Forge suicide prevention advocate, put on her denim and a leather choker and got on the back of a Harley to persuade a group of motorcycle enthusiasts to join her efforts in raising the awareness of the problem of suicide this month.

The Ladies of Harley division of the Baltimore County Metropolitan Harley Owners Group decided to help by designing a winding 125-mile course through parts of Baltimore and Harford Counties as part of a Poker Run - a combination of a motorcycle rally and card game - to raise money for the organization Suicide Prevention Education Awareness for Kids.

The event was planned on a Saturday with uncertain weather, and organizers weren't sure how much money they'd raise for the charity. Turns out, they did just fine - with 14 riders showing up for the Poker Run under cloudy skies and raising $1,200 for SPEAK programs.

The group also turned a few heads as it drove through Susquehanna, Rocks and Gunpowder Falls state parks, where the cyclists had cards stamped, before they headed back to the Harley-Davidson store in Rosedale to play poker.

"We had the weather against us, but the bikers were great," said Covington, president and one of the founders of SPEAK. "The main thing we wanted was to raise awareness to what's going on. Well, people are aware."

The group is planning another poker run in the spring.

- Laura Barnhardt

They're doing their part

Baltimore's homicide rate, and the possibility that 300 people might be killed this year in the city, has become an increasingly popular topic on The Sun's Web site. discussion board posters have posed many questions to each other on the topic. One of the most recent posters asked fellow participants, "What have you done to reduce the murder count?"

Another participant had an answer: "I haven't killed anybody."

- Ryan Davis

Take my road, please

Reality television has wife swaps, so why not a road swap for Baltimore County?

The head of the Greater Towson Committee, a business organization with a stated mission to "promote investment in Towson," faxed letters last week to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. suggesting just such an exchange.

Exchanging control of the Towson Bypass - a county road that allows motorists to avoid a congested piece of York Road - for the aforementioned stretch of York, a state road, would enable local officials to make traffic improvements to create a "small town" feel in downtown Towson, said Robert E. Latshaw Jr., the group's executive director.

Changes to York Road's parking and traffic patterns could slow motorists, divert through-traffic onto the bypass and boost area businesses, he said.

"With a friendly governor from Baltimore County ... I think we have a better chance than ever," said Latshaw, who sent the letter on behalf of his group.

A spokeswoman for Ehrlich said the governor, who would need to discuss the matter with Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan, has likely not yet seen the letter.

"I've heard of swapping a lot of things. Roads are not one of them," said spokeswoman Shareese N. DeLeaver.

As for the county, Smith said such an exchange would require working through "a lot of practical details."

"It's a big idea, and it's certainly an intriguing idea," he said. "I'm always willing to talk to the governor about anything - except swapping our respective positions."

- Lisa Goldberg

Perilous pedestrians

As if inattentive drivers talking on cell phones aren't enough, here's another reminder that will certainly cheer up your driving experience: Maryland's deer population.

The state Department of Natural Resources warns motorists that during October and November, deer are expanding their home ranges, reproducing or foraging for food.

A couple of DNR recommendations: If you see one deer crossing your path, there will probably be more. Do not swerve to avoid hitting a deer because you might strike another vehicle. If you see a deer standing by the road, slow down and sound your horn to frighten the deer away.

Last year, vehicles struck and killed 3,849 deer, the DNR said. The agency did not mention the human headaches from those collisions, such as insurance claims, estimates for body damage and possible injuries.

- Joe Nawrozki

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