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

Changes Needed on South Broadway to Prevent More Pedestrian Deaths

For over a decade I’ve written about pedestrians, including pedestrian deaths. It’s difficult to visit the sites and write about how the area could be designed better, but nothing like the pain experienced by the families & friends who’ve lost a loved one. Most recent was Bapi Gupta:

Gupta’s mother, Genie Dee, and Georgie Busch, who lost her daughter, Amber Wood, in a hit-and-run accident in the same location in 2012, are hoping to bring change to the stretch of roadway.

The string of fatalities and near misses has many calling for slower traffic in the area.

“Why is it 35 miles an hour here? Why isn’t there a stop light up the street here, which they took down, by the way,” said Michael Chekoudjian, the driving force behind a change.org petition asking for changes to the area. (KMOV)

From the change.org petition:

With 3 fast lanes of traffic heading south, trying to beat the lights cars are exceeding the speed limit by 20 to 50 MPH. This is very Dangerous in an “Entertainment District” with as many as a 1000 people in the streets at times and as we know by the hit and run death of “Amber Wood” at the 700 block of Broadway in April of 2012 this is a very dangerous stretch of roadway. We the signers of this petition want Mayor Slay to put a stop to this speeding on this dangerous stretch of road in the name of “Amber Wood” NOW!

First let’s look at a couple of recent suggestions offered by family & friends:

Lower the posted speed limit: Motorists currently exceed the 35MPH speed limit, they’ll drive the same speed regardless of the posted limit. This is because people drive at what they perceive to be a safe speed based on the design of the road. If you want to lower the speed — you must change the design! More on the design later.

Traffic signal at previous intersection: The previous light at Cerre St was removed when a new ramp onto Eastbound I-64 made it a dead-end street. Putting a signal back doesn’t make sense. However, a flashing yellow signal overhead would be a good idea, changing to red if activated by a pedestrian wanting to cross Broadway.

There are things that should change, let’s take a look:

A lot of the traffic on Broadway gets on Westbound I-64 before getting to the commercial district where pedestrians have been struck & killed.
A lot of the traffic on Broadway gets on Westbound I-64 before getting to the commercial district where pedestrians have been struck & killed.
Approaching Cerre St from the North.
Approaching Cerre St from the North.
After many get on the highway the remaining traffic now has more room, so they can speed up. Looking South from from just South of Cerre St, three wide traffic lanes in one direction plus parking lanes on both sides. This is designed to move cars quickly, not a good design for the commercial district just beyond the elevated train tracks. The vehicles you see are a deep line stopped at Gratiot St.
After many get on the highway the remaining traffic now has more room, so they can speed up. Looking South from from just South of Cerre St, three wide traffic lanes in one direction plus parking lanes on both sides. This is designed to move cars quickly, not a good design for the commercial district just beyond the elevated train tracks. The vehicles you see are a deep line stopped at Gratiot St.
This is the pedestrian environment across the street from the Broadway Oyster Bar.
This is the pedestrian environment across the street from the Broadway Oyster Bar.
Looking East at Gratiot St we see the traffic light is green but the pedestrian signal is "don't walk" Broadway Oyster Bar is on the left. Also not the curb bulbs out into both Gratiot & Broadway.
Looking East at Gratiot St we see the traffic light is green but the pedestrian signal is “don’t walk” Broadway Oyster Bar is on the left. Also not the curb bulbs out into both Gratiot & Broadway.

I sat here for a few cycles to time the lights. For vehicles the light is green for about 38-40 seconds. However, the pedestrian signal is “walk” for just 4 seconds before it begins to flash! It flashes for 10-15 seconds before going to a solid don’t walk, but the traffic signal remains green. Having such a short walk time with a longer traffic time encourages pedestrians to go for it rather than wait on the longer Broadway signal.  The pedestrian signal timing needs to change immediately! Ok, let’s cross.

Looking North we see how the "curb bulb" encloses the end of the parking lane on the East side of Broadway, Why wasn't the curb on the West side bulbed out as well?
Looking North we see how the “curb bulb” encloses the end of the parking lane on the East side of Broadway, Why wasn’t the curb on the West side bulbed out as well?

Based on my visit, here are my suggestions:

Immediate solutions:

  • Change pedestrian signal timing at Gratiot.

Short-term solutions:

  • Reinstall traffic signal at Cerre St., on yellow flash, changing to red if activated by a pedestrian.
  • Restripe Broadway, narrowing the 3 drive lanes.
  • Add a solid white lane to separate the outside drive lanes from the adjacent parking lanes.
  • Change pedestrian signals to have a countdown timer.

Long-term solutions:

  • New streetscape, putting the road on a diet with curb bulbs at all corners. Include mid-block planters in the parking lanes.
  • Return 4th & Broadway to 2-way traffic.

More observation, at different times, is needed. But this area must change or we’ll see more pedestrians hit.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    The last pedestrian death, here, occured at 3 am when the pedestrian was crossing the street mid-block. Slowing down traffic will have only limited impact if the pedestrians fail to follow the existing rules, as well. Broadway is wide and fast for many, many blocks south of here, and there seems to be far fewer challenges with pedestrians being hit. I’d argue that the high concentration of bars, here, results in a large number of intoxicated people, bith walking and driving, especially at 3 am!

     
    • Dave Brown says:

      That pedestrian wasn’t crossing the street, he was walking down the middle of it, likely drunk.

       
    • The pedestrian conditions in this city are so poor that few feel like it makes a difference. Better pedestrian amnesties would be used by pedestrians.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        Unfortunately, the two best, short-term, solutions, to improve pedestrian safety, on this block, would be to eliminate all on-street parking and to cut down the street trees, both of which would make wayward pedestrians way more visible to drivers (no parked cars or shadows to hide activity, until the last moment) and would give pedestrians a better view of approaching traffic (that only comes from one direction AND comes in waves). Crossing the street, here, or anywhere else on a one way street, just requires patience – wait for for one of the regular breaks in traffic, then go for it! Yes, dramatically slowing down traffic, thru the installation of various physical barriers, would likely make the sober pedestrian experience marginally better, but would do little to keep drunks from wandering into the street. And, you’re right, you need to make some more “observations” – the conditions at 2 am are quite different than those at 2 pm.

         
        • Wrong, on-street parking and street trees are two elements that slow drivers, their removal would speed up the “design speed” of the road!

           
          • JZ71 says:

            But they would make jaywalking pedestrians more visible (and less likely to get hit) on THIS block.

             
  2. Fozzie says:

    Your proposed solutions are window dressing when the driver that killed Mr. Gupta was estimated to have been going 80-90 MPH.

     
    • When people arrive earlier in the evening they likely see the pedestrian signal gives them just 4 seconds. So when they leave many likely think why bother going to the crosswalk and wait, causing then to cross whenever they think they can.

       
  3. KevinB says:

    The solution requires commitment and responsibility from (at least) three different parties: 1) Drivers — they must follow the rules of the road and respect all pedestrian crossings. Even at an unmarked 4-way stop/intersection, the pedestrian has the right-of-way; 2) Pedestrians — in the city of St. Louis, the pedestrian experience isn’t ideal but it is mostly functional. When crossing illegally, the onus is on the pedestrian, not the driver; 3) The City — while it’s important to make physical improvements to driver-pedestrian interaction points, I’d say it’s more important to address the general lack of knowledge/respect that people have for this shared system and infrastructure.

    It’s funny — walking around Chicago, you just kind of go, confident that any car at or approaching a stop sign will cede to you; in St. Louis, you have to be on your toes a lot more; you’re more likely to have someone honk you along or short-cut you than have them wait their turn, even with a walk signal!

     
  4. Mike F says:

    Well, you know, he was asking for it, of course.

     
    • JZ71 says:

      No, he was not “asking for it”, but he wasn’t blameless, either. Hitting a pedestrian is wrong. Hit and run is way wrong. But moving vehicles are not legally required to stop for pedestrians crossing mid-block, they’re only required to stop at marked and unmarked crosswalks (and they don’t always even do that – little enforcement). The victim was jaywalking, crossing mid-block (which IS against the law). Our parents taught us to “look both way before crossing the street”, he apparently didn’t. Walking out into traffic, and expecting it to stop, in St. Louis, works, a lot of the time, but not all of the time. You take your chances, and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Did he “deserve” to die? Absolutely not, but he took a chance, and, this time, he lost . . .

       

Comment on this Article:

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

FYI ... See MoreSee Less

We are currently working with the City of St. Louis on a Downtown Multimodal Study & we want your input! Please plan to stop by and give us your thoughts on how we can enhance #mutlimodal #transportation in #Downtown #STL. Workshops will be held Monday, September 18 - Thursday, September 21! See flyer for more information.

3 days ago  ·  

An upcoming event you might be interested in attending. ... See MoreSee Less

The Origin and Evolution of St. Louis' Urban Form

August 24, 2017, 8:00pm - August 24, 2017, 10:00pm

Historian and geographer Michael Allen will lay out the origin and evolution of the city form of St. Louis: the street pattern, transportation routes, parks, public works, zoning and other elements that shaped the landscape into a modern city. The story begins with the Mississippians, follows the French colonists and studies the next 250 years of growth, decline and regeneration.

3 days ago  ·  

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe