When Columbia was developed the thinking was that sideways were only needed in residential neighborhoods where children might be walking to school. The idea that someday the workers at our retail establishments might not have a car to drive to their job or that people might want to walk to shopping centers apparently didn't seem to be recognized. Oh sure the village centers had residents close by and sidewalks to get to these centers but when the new shopping centers were developed, like Dobbin Center and the shopping center with our BJ's and Home Depot, cars are the only way to get to these shopping centers as shown below.
Recognizing that our need for sidewalks might need to be re-examined the Howard County Transportation Office has released a "Pedestrian Plan." According to the Plan:
"Howard County’s current network of pedestrian facilities evolved over many decades, during the same timeframe in which Howard County itself evolved from its rural roots to its current suburban and urban character. Pedestrian facilities built during that period through the efforts of the government or private sector were developed generally in an ad hoc fashion. Only in Columbia was there a consistent strategy to coordinate pedestrian improvements from an overall community standpoint. Today, there are many gaps and inconsistencies in the County’s pedestrian network. The Pedestrian Plan process is intended to close those gaps, provide greater uniformity and predictability, improve access to public and commercial land uses and create a well balance and effective pedestrian network. " "The highest priority will be given to improvements which mitigate hazards to pedestrians etc. with major pedestrian points of origin. Primary initial focus is to create a system of pedestrian facilities along and between minor collector and higher classified roads linking important destinations (retail centers, public buildings, parks, employment sites, etc.) that also provide access to transit stops. Priority will be assigned to pedestrian connections that also provide access to transit stops. Current and anticipated pedestrian demand will be primary factors in initial prioritization. Pedestrian facilities along State roads serving commercial areas, like US Route 1 and US Route 40, shall generally be considered for high priority. Review by and coordination with SHA on ownership, maintenance will be a priority. based on anticipated walking destinations. Pedestrian connections to senior centers and senior living facilities will be prioritized. Provision of pedestrian connections from existing neighborhoods to schools will be guided by the Howard County Public School System proposals and the County Sidewalk Policy."
The Route 1 Corridor seems to be a high priority because of the large number of persons living and working along that route that don't have cars. Plus the traffic intersections along Route 1 are some of the most dangerous for pedestrians. The more rural western Howard County not surprisingly is minimally addressed.
This plan, along with the Bicycle Master Plan, are important in making Howard County a "greener" county.