The future of transportation is “Complete Streets”

Transportation has been in the news a lot lately. Governor Hogan announced his intention to spend $9 billion on a massive highway project. Howard County is holding public hearings on how to upgrade our public transit system. Columbia Association just held its annual BikeAbout. And Horizon Foundation is holding its Open Streets event Sunday October 1st.

We need to think of these aspects of transportation as an integrated whole or else we’ll waste a lot of money without fully supporting our community needs. Contrary to Governor Hogan’s approach, Howard County has committed to a “Complete Streets” policy, and the Open Streets event will demonstrate what that is.  Here I attempt to make sense of it all.

Governor Hogan announces widening of I-270, Capital Beltway (I-495), and Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295)

Annapolis MD, Sept 21, 2017

Delivering on his commitment to provide innovative transportation solutions for Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan today announced the administration’s plans to add four new lanes to I-270, the Capital Beltway (I-495), and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295).

Baltimore-Washington Parkway (National Park Service – click on photo for source)

“These three massive, unprecedented projects to widen I-495, I-270, and MD 295 will be absolutely transformative, and they will help Maryland citizens go about their daily lives in a more efficient and safer manner,” said Governor Hogan. “Today, we are turning Maryland’s celebrated innovation into real action. These projects will substantially and dramatically improve our state highway system and traffic in the region.”

Howard regional transit public meetings continue

by Kate Magill (Howard County Times) Sept 14, 2007

The Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland and Maryland Transit Administration hosted the second of four public meetings Wednesday night about the upcoming transit development plan, meant to upgrade the public transit system in Howard, Anne Arundel and parts of Prince George’s counties.

The plan aims to address residents’ woes about issues such as lengthy wait times for service and indirect routes. . . . Some of the changes residents said they most wanted included increased weekend service and more frequent bus service throughout the day.

[Officials] hope to put the plan before the Howard County Council for approval by the end of the year . . . .  However, the council’s approval of the plan does not guarantee that it will be funded.





from Caltrans “Complete Streets Elements Toolbox” (click on photo for source)
from Caltrans Complete Streets Elements Toolbox (click on photo for source)
from the city of Gardner, Massachusetts (click on photo for source)

Howard County Complete Streets Policy – October 2016

“To ensure that Howard County is a place for individuals of all backgrounds to live and travel freely, safely, and comfortably, public and private roadways in Howard County shall be safe and convenient for residents of all ages and abilities who travel by foot, bicycle, public transportation or automobile, ensuring sustainable communities Countywide.” – Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Executive, Council Resolution 35-2016.

The County shall approach every transportation improvement and project phase as an opportunity to create safer, more accessible streets for all users of all ages and abilities, including people who walk, bike, take the bus, and drive cars and trucks. These phases include, but are not limited to: planning, programming, design, right-of-way acquisition, subdivision and land development, new construction, construction engineering, reconstruction, operation, repair, and maintenance. This applies to both new and retrofit projects.

Examples of Complete Streets in Howard County


Design for Centennial Lane that was implemented June 2017 (by Howard County Government)

Says Chris Eatough, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, Office of Transportation, Howard County Government:

“Centennial Lane is a good example, and the improvements were made recently.  Buffered bike lanes and a new marked crosswalk with pedestrian refuge island near Centennial Elementary School. The crosswalk makes crossing the road much more comfortable and has created a much improved community feel, with many more people out and about on foot and on bike.”

Centennial Lane at Breconshire Road (photo by Chris Eatough, Howard County Government)
by Howard County Government


Columbia Multi-Use Pathway, Little Patuxent Parkway (photo by Downtown Columbia Partnership – click photo for source)

Says Chris Eatough, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, Office of Transportation, Howard County Government:

“Another example is Little Patuxent Parkway in Downtown Columbia. The big improvement there is the new shared use pathway, which runs from Howard County General Hospital to Blandair Park. Much of it is parallel to Little Patuxent Parkway, changing what was previously an auto orientated area to what is now a pleasant, comfortable, and convenient route for walking and biking.”


Old Stockbridge Drive at Falling Leaves Court, Waterloo (photo by Chris Eatough, Howard County Government)

Says Chris Eatough, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, Office of Transportation, Howard County Government:

“This is a street that works well for everyone. Wide, well maintained sidewalks on both sides with grass buffers between the sidewalk and the road. Bike lanes on each side of the road. Marked crosswalks with bump outs to calm traffic, shorten the crossing distance, and improve visibility of pedestrians crossing.”

Learn more at the Open Streets event — Sunday Oct. 1st, 11 am – 3 pm

Bring your bikes and walking shoes and see how better street design can make getting around easier, safer and more comfortable for everyone at the Open Streets Howard County event on Sunday Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting at Dunloggin Middle School and Northfield Elementary School, extending to Dorsey Hall Pool and the Dorsey’s Search Village Center. Sponsored by the Horizon Foundation, the event will include action-packed stops with bicycle and pedestrian facility demos, food trucks, kids’ activities and more.

Featured image at top of post

My thanks to Chris Eatough, Howard County Office of Transportation, for his assistance with this blog post.


Published by

Harry Schwarz

Nicknamed “The Professor” by his colleagues, Harry is a native Marylander who moved to Columbia in 2001. Harry’s wife, Cathy, is a Columbia acupuncturist and the family includes two college-age children, a dog and a cat. Harry is a partner with BearsolutionsLLC, assisting charter school authorizers to provide effective financial oversight. He is underemployed at this time and welcomes conversation about how he might help you.

2 thoughts on “The future of transportation is “Complete Streets””

  1. Hello maybe you will hear my voice because I have been trying to request in writing and verbally and in reference to injuries 4 years especially the past 5 years or so 4 the transportation here in Columbia the bus routes to have handicap accessible stops for wheelchairs where I live it’s not it’s always a problem I’ve injured myself and my wheelchair has been broken and half the time I cannot get on the bus and especially in the snow they should keep the stops up also they promised about five six maybe seven years ago to remedy this problem but they never did all they did was make new sidewalks with dips for wheelchairs I have not pursued anything legally because I was trying to work with everyone but they don’t care Howard County transportation does not care about Wheelchairs and especially for your new walkways I like the ones that go past bike aways past Howard County General like that it would be nice if all of them the sidewalks are like that because they’re all broken up which throws wheelchairs also and or walkways like you talked about in this article to be wide enough and room for wheelchairs especially motorized wheelchairs thank you very much I hope you do something about it ASAP I live on Little Patuxent Parkway they are no handicap ways to get on and off here is specially at Lone Tree and the street before that the street before that is where I live but I have to decide which stop to get on if it’s at the stop before Lone Tree it has to be the short bus and if it’s a stop on Lone Tree then it has to be the long bus and is a very tiny space on the sidewalk for the lift to come down so lately I have not ridden the bus especially because my condition has gotten worse and I don’t feel like being injured again whatever I’ve ever said went in one ear and out of the other except for about 7 years ago one person put it in writing and presented to Howard County and they kept saying they were going to do it and they never did because like I said they don’t care about the disabled and transportation in Howard County Maryland Columbia Maryland especially I will post my name and believe me all of them on the lower level under you know my name. Even though I have been cordial and prayed about all of this the disrespect is not accepted it’s a good thing. I even complained on your Facebook page a couple of years ago still nothing done. I am not the only one having these problems I’ll talk to others who mostly don’t ride the bus and then you’re Paratransit IS250 each Direction for people who are either disabled and possibly and usually on low income and can’t go anywhere because they can’t afford that so there Alternatives stay home or try the regular bus that leaves them in the snow for 3 hours like they’ve done to me twice and I have frostbite damage to my feet and Toes leave them in the rain for a couple of hours when it’s freezing or pay $2.50 in each direction for every place that you go when it used to go by your income and it needs to again Howard County where is your heart


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