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Towson accident demonstrates the need for more walkable streets

Greater Baltimore Medical Center

I was shocked to hear the news of Dr. Theodore Houk's injury after he was hit by a car recently as he was jogging to work ("Best wishes to Dr. Houk," March 30). I wish him and his family all the best and a speedy recovery.

After serving the past 20 years in the military, I was happy to return to the area where I grew up when my family found a home in West Towson last year. Being an avid competitive runner, one of the first things I noticed was Dr. Houk's figure sprinting up and down Charles Street.

His dedication in rain, snow and the like impressed me. What I didn't know was how long he had been running or what his contributions to The Sun had been over the years.

His example points up the need for our community and leaders to start focusing on the walkability of the Towson area and the rest of our county, which includes activities like running, biking and hiking as well.

The point is that this didn't have to happen to Dr. Houk. Clearly this was a very unfortunate accident on a very busy street. But no one yet mentioned the lack of access for pedestrian, runners, cyclists and walkers as a factor to be considered.

Let's start with the stretch of Charles Street from the Greater Baltimore Medical Center to Lutherville. The county and state have spent a lot of money upgrading and beautifying Charles Street at the I-695 overpass, but during the process we left out bike and pedestrian lanes, safe crossings and sidewalks up and down the hills.

What amazes me is that we install accessible corners and ramps when there are no continuing sidewalks and no place to go at a corner. Also, we'll put a sidewalk on one side of a road, such as along Towson Town Boulevard, but not the other — even though one can clearly see the path beaten by runners, walkers and cyclists there.

Dr. Houk's daily runs were a testament to all of us who want safe passage to get around without the need of a car. I truly hope that once he is healed and back on his feet that he will continue his daily runs, and if is reading this I hope he'll let me know the next time he feels like going for a run so that I can join him.

Timothy Tenne, Towson

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