Home » Accessibility »Downtown »Featured »Planning & Design »Walkability » Currently Reading:

Shrinking Sidewalks

December 7, 2012 Accessibility, Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability 16 Comments

The sidewalks downtown seem to be shrinking in width, even though the curb line hasn’t changed in years.

ABOVE: On paper the sidewalks on Washington Ave are a decent width, various elements reduce the effective width considerably

When I first passed Copia, above, on Wednesday three people were conversing just outside the door, blocking my only path. One moved the sign as I started to hit it and he said “sorry”, apologizing for the sign blocking the sidewalk.  A half an hour later I come back through and the sign is placed in the same location. The supports for the awning also reduce the width. So does the planter in the background.

Block after block our sidewalks are effectively reduced to single file. Not exactly friendly or what was envisioned when the sidewalks were widened at significant public expense some years ago.

If allowed, some adjacent property owners will privatize the public sidewalk.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "16 comments" on this Article:

  1. samizdat says:

    Wow. Someone at Copia is being an asshole…truly. Hey, asshole, stop putting the sign in the middle of the friggin’ sidewalk. By the way, douche, did your boss get a permit for that awning, hmmm? Ya’ know, if you haven’t already applied for your summer garden permit, you might want to stop being a thoughtless jerk, otherwise some people may show up and speak strongly against your request.

    As my wife’s mom used to say: Some people’s children…

    • EVERYTHING about that entire comment is everything I hate about living in the city. Want to improve the private business you solely own and pay for? Not without your slavemaster bureaucrat’s permission and an appropriate fee(bribe). Want to grow your own food? Better get out the fee(bribe) checkbook again to secure the use of your own property.

      • JZ71 says:

        We’re talking about the PUBLIC right-of-way here, not the private property behind the front door!

  2. stlsig says:

    This is really a simple thing to fix. You have employees that are just following the direction of their manager who hasn’t been trained on how to utilize the public space. The city could send around a flyer with a diagram of how to comply with codes on the usage of the public sidewalk. You’ll solve most of these issues and for those that don’t comply they can be fined.

  3. John says:

    Neither the sign nor the awning posts should be in the middle of the sidewalk (the throughway zone). It should be next to the tree (in the furnishings zone) or next to the building (in the frontage zone). This is probably a code violation of some sort.

  4. In Chicago, they have an ordinance against sandwich board signs PERIOD in most districts. Of course, it’s never enforced until the Streets/Public Way Dept. needs to reduce a shortfall. After word gets around of some businesses being cited, word gets around quick and the signs are stowed.

    I don’t think St. Louis is at a point where they can afford to flat out ban these sandwich boards, but I DO think it’s justifiable to require a yearly sidewalk advertising permit (for, say, $500) and rules dictating sizing, display content and location.

    • “I DO think it’s justifiable to require a yearly sidewalk advertising permit (for, say, $500)”

      We already have that, my friend, and the fee is WAY higher than you propose. It’s called ‘business and property taxes’….And I think they cover their ‘fair share’ WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY more then enough to take up a single square foot of sidewalk to advertise to increase revenue to pay even more taxes.

      • JZ71 says:

        Again, we’re talking about the PUBLIC right of way. The business does NOT own the sidewalk, we the people do, and we should have free access to what we all own!

  5. PR says:

    i’ve been noticing this also, don’t like!

  6. Get a cane from Levine and knock it over next time. See if you can get it on video too.

  7. JZ71 says:

    Mostly agree, but remember that urban life is messy. The alternative, sanitized and well-ordered, is more shopping mall than city street. Bigger picture, I have just as much of a problem (and probably a bigger one) with sidewalk dining, where diners are blocking the sidewalk. I have no problem with “relocating” the sign – it won’t give me any attitude – but I’m more reluctant to confront an a**hole sitting in a chair blocking the sidewalk! A minimum of 5′ in clear width needs to be maintained for the public on the public right of way – it doesn’t matter what the impediment is!

  8. moe says:

    And once again a conversation take a turn to reflect ignorance.

  9. Brad Waldrop says:

    Who do you think should police this? SLDC has the ’99 redevelopment guidelines. But they are not adopted as ordinance. Yet, the building division does ask for SLDC approval sometimes. The ’99 guidelines dictate street furnishings should be placed at the curb, etc. agreed, sidewalks are shrinking. More so, they are chaotic.

  10. Brad Waldrop says:

    Other sidewalks on Wash AVE that suck: Flannery’s (how do you squeeze through there Steve?). Near Prime – we had a similar problem as Merchandise Mart at Monkey though: storefront elevation. I don’t think lifts are always the best solution. Sometimes grade prevents interior ramps. I would have rather provided a side entry but I understand that is offensive. If we ever have any real retail density W of 14th ST Monkey’s Wash AVE sidewalk will suck too. But Flannery’s, Copia, Hookah … etc. can change now. And, users can look at the ’99 guidelines. Including re-thinking furniture size (Side Bar’s tables are far too large; Flannery’s tables are all one height and therefore inaccessible to some). I love the loft guidelines, no one enforces them. They should be adopted as ordinance??


Comment on this Article: