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So Some ‘SCHMUK’ Parked In A Loading Only Zone

Since I started this blog more than a decade ago pedestrian access & walkability have been a regular theme — especially since I became disabled 7 years ago. Friday I encountered a car parked blocking a ramp. Being a car guy I tend to mention the make of car — it was a Pontiac that blocked a ramp on one of my first outings to the store in a wheelchair in 2008. The car on Friday happened to be a Mercedes.

"Mercedes owner blocked a crosswalk I needed at Richmond Hts MetroLink station"
I said “Mercedes owner blocked a crosswalk I needed at Richmond Hts MetroLink station” on Facebook & Twitter. Click to view on Facebook.
schmuk
I posted this picture of the rear vanity license plate “SCHMUK” on Twitter and in the comments on Facebook, click to view on Twitter.
schmuk
No license plate displayed on the front — as required by Missouri law. No snow or ice — just salt residue

I’m posting this to start a civil discussion about the physical design of the area and how pedestrian amenities are easily ignored.

These three images, above, were taken at 12:11-12:12pm on Friday afternoon, it was 43 °F just before noon.  Like everyone, I make mistakes.  When I do I admit as much.

Here’s what I got wrong:

  1. The ramp isn’t for a crosswalk, it’s for a passenger loading zone.
  2. It’s near the Brentwood MetroLink Station, not the Richmond Heights MetroLink Station — that’s located one station Eastbound on the Blue Line, which opened in 2006.

Very little discussion on Twitter, but Facebook erupted. Here’s some comments that remained as of yesterday (users deleted others):

Comments from a 23 year-old saying he’s the owner:

  • Thanks facebookers. This is actually my vehicle. I assure you that it was a clearly marked parking space and a car was actually parked behind me as you can see. The curbs are not marked yellow or anything. I apologize but it says nothing about not parking in that space. My plates are hilarious I know. Thanks dan for telling me about the post! Lets find something new to complain about now!
  • [After I said I contacted the police] “Omg. Like they don’t have more important stuff to worry about. Sorry you had an inconvenience. Again. The writing on the pavement was still covered in snow and ice.. Also why isn’t the other car being put on a blast? Because it was not a Mercedes!” 
  • Only tacky people use front license plates. Duh.
  • God my car is beautiful though isn’t it?!
  • I have apologized multiple times. No clear signs. No curb markers. No lines within the area. Also the other car hasn’t been called out. Just mine. I’m over the whole situation.

From his friends:

  • I find this city to be wasting more and more time on pointless endeavors that literally amount to nothing more than pessimistic chatter.
  • Go fight a war, go feed the homeless, save a child refugee…no chance of you becoming something of use to the world because you will all still be on facebook making a fool out of yourselves and the right of freedom of speech. No wonder this city is in turmoil… people being shot over petty crimes and people bitching about where cars are parked on a social media site during their off time. #sillyfirstworldproblems My finger tips were cut off a month ago. THAT is a problem. …get a life.
  • It’s the principle. I also am annoyed that my friend who is a very kind, successful individual who doesn’t deserve internet slander or harassment was being targeted as som e sort of criminal. It is as I said before petty, a waste of time, and pathetic.
  •  You guys are clearly uneducated morons! Had any of you spent as much time trying to be successful as you do running your mouths and posting stupid stuff on fb, you too could have nice things. Maybe then you wouldn’t have to run your mouth and judge ppl just to fill you free time it looks like a perfectly fine place to park to me!
  •  Wow! Pretty sure anyone who can afford a Mercedes can most definitely read! So you’re a wannabe photographer, I wouldn’t quit your day job just yet. Parking sucks all over stl & I’m sure that loading zone was so clear thru the ice that even you missed it! You even said so. I am truly nowhere near wealthy & even I have more to do in life than to be so dang petty over something so minimal! Josh is a wonderful person, I’ve known him his whole life! But you all see a Mercedes & automatically go to rich jerk….stereotype much! Sorry, I just think it’s ridiculous to waste this much time of your day venting about something when it would’ve taken 5 extra seconds to walk around the car a foot! They’re not going to give you a Jay walking ticket if there’s obviously a vehicle blocking what you THOUGHT was a crosswalk. Get a life…one where you have a legitimate reason to bash someone, for more than having money bcuz your attitude says that’s all your pissed about. Love ya Josh, glad you could handle this with the class you did, sorry, couldn’t shut my mouth when it’s about my adopted brother!
  • Wow. I know my friend would never intentionally try to hurt anyone or do wrong, as I’ve known him for eight years. Mistakes happen, and whether or not he parked incorrectly, I don’t think it warrants such persecution. He didn’t get a ticket, did he? Leave the law up to the police, not the Internet.
  • I love that the fact you’re driving a Mercedes is what is really pissing people off, [redacted]. If you were driving a POS (that’s Piece Of Shit, for you flipping idiots out there), no one would have even posted about this as that shit happens all the time! Find something else to be pissed about people. #youarethespoiledone.
  • How about using your anger to get the city to install signs on poles that would clearly state Loading zone. Not paint a street that would be covered with salt residue. do something useful instead of petty with your time.

His Dad removed his comments, but the one from his mom remains:

  • My son has apologized, he is a very caring and loving young man and has always obeyed the law, once again, we apologize for all the inconvenience.
    Loving Mother

One of his so-called apologies was this internet meme:

stopbeingpoor
Some may consider this an apology, I do not.

Another comment from the thread — from a personal friend:

I understand that it does not alway occur to people that parking in front of the sidewalk ramp prevents someone using a wheelchair from crossing the street– it is a concept that most folks have the luxury of not thinking about. The benefit of this thread is that it has had the potential to increase awareness (for those open to having their awareness increased). However, I don’t think “sorry you are poor” and related sorry-not-sorry apologies count as a sincere apology and referring to “inconvenience” is patronizing.

Friday I wanted to verify what another commenter had said — that it was clearly a loading zone on Google Maps. The aerial was too dark but the August 2012 Street View was clear, I shared the following screen shot in the thread.

In the comments I was accused of photoshopping the words LOADING ONLY even though I included a link to see it on Google -- click to view.
In the comments I was accused of photoshopping the words LOADING ONLY even though I included a link to see it on Google — click to view. I couldn’t photoshop the above, much less hack Google.

We were out that way Sunday afternoon so I drove through to check it out from a motorists prospective.

Right off Hanley you see a loading only zone with a solid white line and a sign. He was parked further West, let's see how it looks.
Right off Hanley you see a loading only zone with a solid white line and a sign. He was parked further West, let’s see how it looks.
Again, a solid white line that curves back to the curb is a good clue this isn't for driving or parking.  The text is faded and no sign is posted like the previous spot. The ramp is very visible,
Again, a solid white line that curves back to the curb is a good clue this isn’t for driving or parking. The text is faded and no sign is posted like the previous spot. The ramp is very visible,
A close up of the fading text, but the solid white line and ramp are pretty clear.
A close up of the fading text, but the solid white line and ramp are pretty clear.

This entire development is poorly designed  — it doesn’t work well for both motorists and pedestrians. After the I-64 rebuild Musick Memorial Dr became a public street, it’s how you get to Westbound Eager Rd from Hanley. From the various comments I got the view that everything East of I-270 is “the city”, with what the rest of us know as the city being downtown.   St. Louis has no responsibility for Musick Memorial Dr — that falls to either the developer or City of Brentwood.

If only there was  a massive parking garage where he could’ve parked.

— Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mark says:

    I don’t know what type of response you can expect from a 23 year old who leases a Mercedes as his driving car. I have said this elsewhere but leasing expensive cars is not how you grow wealth and become successful. When I see it, my first thoughts are that this is an immature person who does not know the value of money, but then again it is a 23 year old, so there you go. It is disappointing the comments from friends who talk about being socially responsible, but don’t seem to have quite grasped the concept.

     
    • I did some research, either his mom or his trust fund pays for his car.

       
    • Mark-A says:

      I see no problem with driving a Mercedes, regardless of age. How a person of any age may decide to spend his money should not be an issue for anyone but for HIM. My level of maturity is in no way tied with my bank account. A person lives only once, so let it be memorable. My wife and I both drive ugly minivans–it’s what parents do when you’re hauling around half the orchestra and half the soccer team. But until the guy with the Mercedes has to trade for a mini-van, (God forbid!) I will envy but commend him on his choice! (I am the”Mark” from Alabama who lives in Europe, and I don’t want to be associated with the above comment–which is the only reason why I commented).

       
  2. JZ71 says:

    I was part of the original discussion on facebook, but quit following it before it became so heated/stupid/juvenile (on the part of the parker’s “friends”). The only thing that I’ll add, at this point, is that pavement markings/restrictions are not as effective as actual signs on posts. I’ll agree with the parker’s statements that he (probably) parked in what looked like an empty space, in front of another already-parked car (blocking the faded pavement marking) and the the curb was not marked with any paint. The most effective way of designating a loading zone would be signs that state, explicitly, “TRUCK LOADING ONLY >” or “< PASSENGER LOADING ONLY" or "”. The other part of the equation is that this does not look or feel like a “real”, public street; it looks and feels more like a private street in a shopping center or office complex (and as a driver, I feel less at risk of getting a parking ticket, because cities rarely ticket on private property in the St. Louis region).

    To repeat the two points I made on facebook, one, there are two marked pedestrian crosswalks, one about 200′ east of this ramp, and one about 200′ west of the ramp. While there are stop signs, for both directions, near this ramp, both stop signs are beyond/past the ramp location, so using the ramp to cross the street, here, would be hazardous, especially in a wheelchair. And, two, if this were a UPS truck or a pizza delivery beater car, (apparently) making actual deliveries, and not a shiny, white, new, unoccupied Mercedes, would this have been viewed as an abuse of the “Loading” zone? This is NOT a designated accessibe passenger loading zone, it’s a general purpose, non-specific loading zone, so, legally, ANY vehicle involved in actively loading or unloading, making deliveries or waiting to pick up passengers is entitled to park here. The ramp is (apparently) designed to provide access to just this area, and not to create a crosswalk, so there really is no accessibility issue, here – this ramp just adds convenience. (And I’m going to go out on a limb, here, and guess that this curb ramp, along with one on the opposite side of the street, at one point/originally WERE connected by a third, marked crosswalk, and that it was removed at the same time as the stop signs were added to address the fact that vehicles leaving both parking garages were having a hard time turning across traffic during the evening rush hour. Thus, we have a confusing relic, that sends mixed messages.)

    That said, Boy Punk Schmuk and his immature, spoiled, “entitled” friends have a bit (lot?) to learn about living in a civilized society. I find it disturbing that having a nice, expensive, new vehicle somehow makes him and his friends feel above the rules that apply to everyone else. I don’t fault him for grabbing what looked like a “great”, convenient parking spot in a busy area; I fault the city for not enforcing the existing parking restrictions IF there truly is an issue with limited loading space. And, unfortunately, I’m not all that surprised (but I am disappointed) by the snarky, elitist responses from his “friends” . . . but that’s not a total surprise, either, since this all started as a public shaming of someone who was apparently (but not actually) blocking a marked crosswalk. If you start out calling someone a douche, and you’re wrong, don’t be surprised if they respond, in kind . . .

     
    • JZ71 says:

      Confirmation – the crosswalk was removed: http://binged.it/1DeFJe3

       
    • The crosswalk to the West, which serves MetroLink, is on the corner at the very widest point and is the most dangerous point.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        I don’t dispute that the western crosswalk is poorly designed, but it is the most direct pedestrian path between this sidewalk and the access to the Metrolink station. The real issue is that it needs bulbouts and better traffic control, perhaps something like this: http://www.modot.org/stlouis/major_projects/HybridPedestrianCrossing.htm

        Bottom line, as we all know, the Brentwood station was poorly designed, intentionally, for pedestrian access, from day one. It could, and it should, be the poster child for Transit-Orinted Development (TOD) in St. Louis, but it is not! The property owners, to the west, intentionally blocked pedestrian access, and the (this) development, to the east, is inwardly focused for pedestrian use (with “safe” bridges between the office/retail structures, to the north, and mega parking garage, to the south), with no real effort to provide pedestrian access off of the site/property. And forget about heading north – why a pedestrian connection was not included along the rail, in the tunnel, is beyond me!

        No amount of tweaking is going to change any of this, significantly. The ONLY way to make this area more pedestrian “friendly”, at all, would be to knock everything down and start over. The time for these battles is (was?) before construction starts, not now. I know, it’s chicken-or-egg, but pedestrians are a real minority, here, so it’s no surprise that most motorists don’t even “think” of them. Better design “may” encourage more walking, but you’re also facing of the issue of the great beyond – you can’t, physically, easily, walk north across highway 64/40. To the south, along Hanley, you have Home Depot, McDonald’s and Lion’s Choice, while, to the east, you have the local rec center, a gas station and a new Menard’s – none of which are destinations most Metrolink riders have any interest in walking to! Walmart, Sam’s, Lowe’s, Red Lobster and the Olive Garden are all more than a half mile away, so if you’re using transit, to get to them, you’re probably taking a bus, not walking. And the real “culprit”, here, remains the city, whose leaders see no need, nor any reason, to enourage pedestrian uses or pedestrian infrastructure – it just might have something to do with that no car = poor mindset that pervades much of the region . . . .

         
    • expos1981 says:

      “I find it disturbing that having a nice, expensive, new vehicle somehow makes him and his friends feel above the rules that apply to everyone else.”

      Really?

       
      • JZ71 says:

        “Only tacky people use front license plates. Duh.”

        “God my car is beautiful though isn’t it?!”

        “You guys are clearly uneducated morons! Had any of you spent as much time trying to be successful as you do running your mouths and posting stupid stuff on fb, you too could have nice things. Maybe then you wouldn’t have to run your mouth and judge ppl just to fill you free time it looks like a perfectly fine place to park to me!”

         
  3. rgbose says:

    The area is quite hostile to pedestrian. It’s slowly getting better. One still has to walk in the street to get tot he front door of Best Buy. They recently added a sidewalk on the west side of the Metrolink station so you could walk to Dierbergs without walking in the street. They unfortunately removed the trees rather than removing and unnecessary lane of the street. It’s still absolutely stupid you have to go way back behind then double back to get to the strip mall. You should end up in line with the stores. I guess they were worried about people using the parking lot for park n ride.

    I’m looking forward to the Chick-fil-A opening over there, but not risking my life each time I want those little nuggets of goodness!

     

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