There was another bank robbery in sleepy little Laurel last week. I'm starting to wonder if the rash of crimes at banks around here is due to the overwhelming number drive through bank branches that have been popping up on Route 1 the past few years.
Drive through banks are bad urbanism. They take up a great deal of space, they require curb cuts in addition to parking, and they encourage car-oriented development. Are they attracting crime as well?
Last Week's robbery occurred in the shopping center just north of the mall. A shoot out occurred. This sort of thing is starting to become commonplace.
There are five branches of Chevy Chase bank on or just off Route 1 in Laurel. Five. We're talking about a two and a half mile stretch of one road. Is this entirely necessary? Do they all need to be drive-throughs? Chevy Chase, Sandy Spring, M& T, Citibank, Sun Trust, Wachovia, Wells Fargo, Citizens, Bank of America, Navy Federal, Provident, and PNC all have drive through or strip mall branches (mostly drive through) on the ONE MILE stretch of Route 1 between Contee Road and Cherry Lane. Chevy Chase has three, all of them drive-through.
You know what most of that stretch does not have? SIDEWALKS. CROSSWALKS. I live halfway between Contee and Cherry, and I have to walk a half mile in either direction to get to a crosswalk to access the shopping center accross Route 1. But they have no problems making curb cuts for new drive through bank branches by the dozens... Perhaps because much of route 1 doesn't have curbs on that stretch. Then what happens? People like me are forced to drive a half a mile to get to the Safeway 300 yards away, creating more traffic. Thus begins the cycle, because then we need more parking, more lanes, and more drive through banks, since you can't walk anywhere.
Is this the best use of streeet frontage on the main road through the city of Laurel? Much of the route between Contee and Cherry is not in the corporate limits of the city (yet). But still, this densely populated area is horribly unsafe for the people who live, work, and shop along this route, which is rapidly getting more unsafe with each drive through bank that springs up there. It is becoming a suburban bank ghetto. Don't let this happen in your town!