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New Crown Food Mart Strip Center Lacks Required ADA Acess Route

September 17, 2009 Accessibility, North City, Planning & Design 8 Comments

Just North of downtown at Cass & North 13th (map link) an entire block has become a Crown Food Mart strip center with gas station & car wash.  Food choices are very limited in the immediate area so this will serve a need.  The problem is the auto-centric/suburban design.

I’m not talking about the design of the building.  I’m talking about the site design.  The site is surrounded on all sides with streets.  At one time buildings were built up to the street.  A modern example is the strip at Grand & Arsenal — store in front, parking in back.

The sidewalks are generous and have street trees.  They’ll see lots of use too because the area is surrounded by residential with residents that don’t all have cars.  Besides, why drive to a place you can see just a few blocks away?

The problem for the pedestrian is the sidewalk is great if you want to walk around the perimeter of the site but not actually approach any of the stores.  Like so much new construction, this development completely ignores the concept of an ADA access route.  In the short time I was taking these pics I saw a woman walking North and a man heading toward the development in a wheelchair.  He was on Florissant Ave because the area’s sidewalks are in such poor condition, if they exist.

But the incompetent designers of this development wrongly assumed that all customers would arrive by car and that real pedestrians would not use their new sidewalks to get to the businesses.  You may recall the wheelchair bound woman who was struck & killed by a motorist on Delmar at Jefferson after leaving the Crown Food Mart at that intersection.  The city was to blame in that case because the sidewalks were non-existent or not passable.  But like this new location, that location doesn’t have provisions to get from the public sidewalk to the front doors of the businesses. Pedestrians are subjected to enter/exit in the same spots as cars.

Cars & pedestrians are not mutually exclusive, or at least they shouldn’t be.  The way we do it here is we design for cars at the exclusion of pedestrians.  Good design designs for both pedestrians and motorists.  It is possible.  It just takes that as a goal — or a requirement by the city.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. john says:

    Smart and useful design includes pedestrians, motorists and BICYCLISTS. How much space is designed for parking bikes and for how many?

  2. Good call on this design for in-accessibility and safety, both by foot and by chair. After a day downtown with my Mother this week, who used a transport chair to get around, I have a new insight on how site design helps or hinders access for all. I’m always annoyed when I have to weave around cars on a parking lot by foot to get a shop, when there is no pedestrian walkway through it, but it is a completely different set of issues for someone in a chair, or with other mobility issues. How is something like this example allowed to be built today?

  3. James R says:

    Not talking beauty here, just practicality, simplicity, and thrift, what do you think would be a solution? I’m thinking essentially just a curb cut/ramp from the sidewalk to parking level. Then simply a striped crosswalk across the drive aisle to the van access aisle – which should basically align with the ramp to the building walkway. It’s not perfect, but it sets and marks a dedicated route and costs nothing but a bit of paint, a bit of additional concrete work at the sidewalk, and at most one parking space.

  4. Jimmy Z says:

    Ultimately, and unfortunately, it’s up to the government to enforce the standards. Projects like this are built to a farily low standard, minimal investment for maximum return. Yes, it’s “just paint”, but it costs money and, in the end, it doesn’t increase sales. The challenge with the ADA is that it’s federal legislation, and unless someone locally makes it a priority, it becomes a “not my job” enforcement challenge out in the field. Here, I’m pretty sure that the Building Department approved the building while the Streets Department approved the sidewalks and curb cuts. I’m also guessing that Zoning approved some sort of site plan, but I’m not sure who’s responsible for making sure everything shown on the approved site plans, like a striped access path, are actually put in place. Typically, zoning enforcement is reactive (complaint based), not proactive, and given our struggles with vacant and deteriorating structures and properties in too many parts of town, enforcement of “minor” issues like this one become a very low priority.

    [slp — This is beyond the ADA. This is about what we seek in our environment. I expect crap like this 20 miles from downtown but not within a mile.]

  5. Jimmy Z says:

    I’m a bit confused – is this a post about not being able to get between the sidewalk and the building? Or one about an oversize suburban mini-mart replacing more-urban stuff? I drove by to check things out, and I see both as issues – the drive-thru car wash creates a driveway around the back of the structure, pulling it away from the street, plus they needed a retaining wall on the SW corner (limiting pedestrian access) AND there is no defined path between any public sidewalk and the structure.

    Playing devil’s advocate, I don’t see where adding one striped pedestrian crosswalk (per ADA) would improve things much. As you noted, access is possible from all four sides of the block. Humans are both lazy and not all that good about playing by the rules – most pedestrians will take the most direct route from point A to point B, crosswalk be damned. The bigger issue, here and elsewhere, is the drive-thru circling the building, combined with the parking and gas pumps out front. There simply is no good way, crosswalk or not, to get into the building on foot!

  6. James R. says:

    Ignoring all the othe issues, I thought the point was that there was no pedestrian access (from the sidewalk) other than going through the apron and drive aisle.

  7. James R. says:

    I should rephrase that to say to say a designated ADA accesible route from the sidewalk to the building.

    You may be able to access the builidng on all 4 sides, but that means people (in particular the disabled) must walk/roll in the apron and drive aisle. In particular, I”m concerned about wheelchair users moving parallel to the flow of traffic in the aprons.

  8. A good business location should cater to both drive-in and walk-in customers.


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