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St. Louis Crosswalk Ignores ADA Ramps

June 26, 2007 Accessibility, Planning & Design, South City 8 Comments

This weekend, following PrideFest in Tower Grove park, I managed to get some work done by showing a property to a client in the adjacent Shaw neighborhood. Returning home I spotted a problem crosswalk that I had never noticed before, although it looks like this has been the case for some time now. The crossing in question is at the intersection of Magnolia with Grand (view on map).

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As you can see in the above image, the stop line for motorists is dead center on the ADA ramps. The crosswalk markings, where turning motorists might expect to see pedestrians, ends in curbs and lawn areas. The motorist at the left stopped well short of the intersection, keeping the area clear for pedestrians.

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From the opposite side of the street we can see the crosswalk signal on but vehicles blocking the ADA ramps, rendering them useless. This image also illustrates the poor design of the corners.
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Unlike the car in the left lane, not everyone stops at even the stop line. We are so used to making right turns on read we pull up as far as we can. My observation was that drivers do obey the no right turn on red but they still end up blocking the ADA ramps and sometimes the crosswalk as well. Above the driver is talking on the cell phone while blocking the crossing — note the pedestrian signal indicates walk.

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Here you can see the line of cars on eastbound Magnolia at they intersect with Grand. Due to the jog in the street grid traffic is forced to turn left or right, although you can go straight to enter the grocery store seen in the background. But notice the yellow sign on the lamp post — “Blind Persons Crossing.” The visually impaired do use this intersection which is also equipped with older chirp alerts to help those who are not able to see the traffic/pedestrian signals. The little raised squares at the base of ADA ramps are called truncated domes — these are to guide the visually impaired as they can be detected under foot and with a cane — the idea is to help align a person so they are in the right spot to cross the street.

In my view, the city of St. Louis should be held partially liable in the event a pedestrian is struck at this intersection. This is a poor design that, with a little effort, could be greatly improved.

What needs to happen here is the stop line needs to get pushed back and the crosswalk needs to actually get placed where it can functionally be used. To discourage cell phone talking drivers from stopping in the crosswalk, a sign should be added indicating to stop at the stop line. Painting a big “STOP” on the pavement might also help. Placing signage at the eye level of most drivers might also be helpful. These efforts will not prevent the hopelessly oblivious driver from stopping in the crosswalk but clearly the current design encourages drivers to block the ADA ramps. We can, and should, do better for our citizens.
Even though my site is well read at city hall, I will email various decision makers to let them know of this problem so it can get corrected. I will email 8th Ward Alderman Stephen Conway, Dr. Dee from the Office on the Disabled, and Director of Streets Todd Waelterman.

 

Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mark says:

    Steve

    Thanks for alerting us all to that which is all around us every day. Hopefully we, as readers, move to become more observant and more agressive with bringing needed attention to design flaws that should never have been alowed to occur in the first place. I wonder why the paint stripe painting crew members never mentioned this or questioned it perhaps they did.

    [SLP – It is my pleasure to bring these issues to the attention of the public and to those who might make corrections — I just wish there were not so many of them!

    I don’t know what happened here — did the stripe happen after the ramps or did the ramps happen after the stripe was there — either way someone should have stood back a few feet and realized what they were doing didn’t make sense.  If not the worker, the supervisor.  Somebody.]

     
  2. john says:

    There is an important distinction between laws and the enforcement of such. Legislators can write numerous laws that we as a society want but it is up to local law enforcement to administer them. When they fail, our quality of life suffers. How many tickets have been written for the thousands of violations that occur at StL crosswalks everyday? How many police officers have been posted at major intersections to ticket irresponsible drivers? The answer tells you everything one needs to know to understand why the area is considered auto-centrict and not pedestrian friendly.

     
  3. Jim Zavist says:

    I agree. In this case, it looks like the curb ramps are a lot newer than the pavement striping. In an ideal world, restriping the intersection would be a part of the contract. But, like my communities, adding the ramps is another one of those unfunded federal mandates, so we’re trying to make our dollars stretch as far as possible, and the striping can wait. But since this is St. Louis, I’m also willing to bet that, at some point in the future, when the street does get resurfaced, the crosswalk will get restriped in the exact, same and wrong location. Thinking logically and/or “outside the box” seems to be a foreign concept. Perhaps it comes from too many years of being beholden to the whims of our aldermen. Perhaps, it’s just the culture of the department . . .

    [SLP – The curbs were done as part of a larger screenscape project that included resurfacing Grand, adding medians, and re-aligning the lanes.  The crosswalk could have been striped as part of the project had someone been thinking.]

     
  4. Steve,

    They City really should compensate you for being so productive.

     
  5. Maurice says:

    Well, I guess I must be drinking because I would agree with Steve here.

    That corner is a dangerous corner when one considers that many people from the Missouri School for the blind and 2 senior homes occupy that corner.

    At one point when the grocery store changed hands and the street renovations taking place, there was talk of closing off that entrance to the lot and moving it further north.

    I hope that whatever changes they do, that they leave the chirpers in place.

     
  6. Gina says:

    Good photos!

    On the positive side, I’d like to point out that there are separate curb ramps to serve east/west and north/south crossings – and that the detectable warning panels seem to have good contrast. Both are nice to see. For folks with visual impairments in particular, the fact that the ramp, warning etc. all align with the direction of travel is very useful. (One of the problems with the diagonal ramp configuration that we see through out our area, is that is fails to provide any such information.)

    You might want to note that the detectable warning doesn’t provide any directional information – it simply provides warning that the pedestrian is about to enter vehicular space. It also might be nice to know what the plans are for putting in slightly more accessible pedestrian buttons …

     
  7. Margie says:

    Good catch, Steve.

    In response to John above, the lamentable answer is that there is virtually no dedicated traffic-related enforcement in the city. I know that sounds crazy, but that is what I was told by several SLPD officers. The reason? Lack of resources.

    The problem is that over time, selfish drivers get to know that no one is watching, especially in lightly patrolled areas such as northwest of downtown, and compliance with stop signs and even red lights is extremely light. When I was living downtown, I looked both ways at green lights when driving west on Washington to Grand Center, because drivers blow those intersections all the time.

    Meanwhile, the Downtown Partnership was using downtown CID monies (extra taxes paid by us property owners downtown) to pay overtime for cops to wave ballgame goers in and out of downtown quickly. What’s wrong with that picture?

     
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