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Sidewalks To Nowhere: Group Wants Howard County To Take Action On 'Complete Streets' Effort

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) -- A movement is underway to get Howard County to install sidewalks in a neighborhood just outside Columbia.

The community of Guilford used to be in rural Howard County, but development has made the area busier and more dangerous in recent years.

"I'm literally a stone's throw from the school, and I couldn't walk to school," said Rev. Tyrone Jones with the First Baptist Church of Guilford.

Jones' kids were bussed to school even though they lived across the street.

"The problem as I see it is not enough pedestrian access in this community," he said.

Annalisse Daly tried to walk her daughter to school, but since the sidewalks randomly stop and start on their journey, they were forced to walk along guardrails and on curbs just feet from traffic.

"We moved. We moved in large part because of this," the mother of three said.

Now a few miles away, her new neighborhood has sidewalks leading to school.

The issue, though, is larger than Guilford.

"We have a lot of sidewalks in Howard County that go to nowhere," said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, the CEO of the Horizon Foundation.

Vernick wants the county to turn the Complete Streets resolution, which calls for sidewalks, bike paths and other pedestrian-friendly ideas, into law.

"A resolution doesn't bind our county to do anything, it sets forth a vision and sets for an opportunity," she said.

A spokesperson for County Executive Calvin Ball said right now the county shouldn't be bound to make the changes.

"In Howard County, a resolution has the force of law," spokesperson Scott Peterson said in a statement. "We are fortunate and thankful to have a County Council and an active citizenry aligned to identify, prioritize and implement an equitable Complete Streets approach to transportation decisions."

Area residents like Jones disagree.

"If necessary we will take advocacy and move it to agitation, if necessary because it's needed in this community," he said.

The foundation hopes to introduce a bill to the county council by the end of the year that would make the Complete Streets effort law.

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