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An Open Letter To St. Louis’ Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, Jamie Wilson

April 11, 2016 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability 58 Comments


This open letter is in response to your February email reply regarding my posts St. Louis Fails At Crosswalks, Part 1 and Part 2. You wrote:

Thanks for your input on the crosswalks. I’m working on improving our pedestrian facilities and we will get better. Please feel free to send me other locations you’ve noticed besides those mentioned. I’d also value any pics you may have from other cities in your travels that have different approaches.

Since you asked, I put together information on problems I’ve seen here in St. Louis, along with solutions I’ve seen in other cities. I’m making this open to increase public awareness and discussion. It does cause me concern that a “traffic engineer” is in charge of pedestrian & bike issues — it is traffic engineering that has made it such a liability to be a pedestrian or cyclist in this city & region. This is reflected in pedestrian deaths.

That said, I do know engineers can do good work — when they think like pedestrians instead of drivers! The Portland Pedestrian Design Guide, dated June 1998, is a great place for you to start your re-education. Yes, a document nearly two decades old shows how far behind St. Louis is when it comes to addressing the needs pedestrians.

Here’s my initial list — in no particular order:

  1. Do not require pedestrians to press a button to get a WALK signal — except in very limited circumstances.
  2. Make sure every leg of a signalized intersection includes a pedestrian signal — with countdown timer.
  3. Allow pedestrians to cross at each leg of an intersection.
  4. Give pedestrians a head start with a WALK signal a few seconds before the traffic light turns green.
  5. Give pedestrians the walk before left-turning traffic, trailing left instead of leading left.
  6. Time pedestrian signals consistently. Some say DON’T WALK while traffic still has 30-60 of a green light remaining.
  7. Make sure sidewalks are level, not cracked. Sufficiently wide through path so pedestrians can meet/pass — not single file.
  8. Ramps perpendicular to curb, not on the apex of the corner.
  9. Use street trees and/or parked cars to separate pedestrians from vehicles
  10. Mid-Block crossings should be marked in the middle — a center sign and/or overhead light/sign

I don’t have photos to illustrate all ten items, but here are some:

A crosswalk & pedestrian signal in Cincinnati OH
A crosswalk & pedestrian signal in Cincinnati OH
The sign above the pedestrian signal lets pedestrians know this signal requires activation
The sign above the pedestrian signal lets pedestrians know this signal requires activation
They al;so mark the buttons too let pedestrians know they need to activate the walk signal.
They al;so mark the buttons too let pedestrians know they need to activate the walk signal.

In their downtown the bulk of the crossings were automatic, no activation required. This is how it should be in places with higher pedestrian traffic. There were a couple of places where they need a button but that was only to activate audio signals for those visually-impaored — a sign was there to let the rest of us know it was an audio signal — we didn’t need to press it to get a WALK signal.


As Oklahoma City rebuilds downtown the new crosswalks are very wide, curb ramps can accommodate many users. July 2012
As Oklahoma City rebuilds downtown the new crosswalks are very wide, curb ramps can accommodate many users. July 2012

Contrast this with the narrow crosswalks and curb ramp in/around Ballpark Village — which are undersized for game-day pedestrian volume. As I find more examples in my photo library I’ll do a new post(s). In the meantime, I’d like us to take a walk.Ideally, we’d arrange for a power wheelchair for you to use so we can cover more territory.

Additional reading:

And please take 20 minutes to watch Dan Burden:

— Steve Patterson



Currently there are "58 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    1. A resource: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/pdf/PlanDesign_SamplePlans_Local_Denver2004.pdf

    2. In the real world, 1,3,4 and 9 are unobtainale ideals, at most intersections, except in the CBD and in a few other pedestrian-dense areas. As you alluded to, traffic engineers are charged with BALANCING multiple, competing, demands. Their charge is to OPTIMIZE, not to social engineer an agenda. If 90%-95%+ are driving through an intersection (as they are, in most of the city), guess what? Cars WILL be the priority, and pedestrian access will be limited.

    3. For your number 3, the Barnes Dance is the best answer: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/barnes.cfm and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedestrian_scramble

    4. For your number 10, mid-block crossings are inherently more hazardous. Adding more information helps, but both better enforcement and better driver awareness are critical to making themsomewhat safe(r).

    And I do appreciate your idealism. This is a complex topic, one with many priorities, at times conflicting, of varying degrees of importance. My biggest priorities are more mundane – completing the missing links, adequate maintenance and better enforcement of existing laws (for both drivers and peds). Good luck!

    • Adam says:

      How the hell is it idealism when so many other cities do it? I love how, in your mind, building infrastructure that makes it easier to drive fast is just “balancing” but building infrastructure that makes it safe to be a pedestrian is “social engineering”. Your incessant contrarianism for the sake of contrarianism has no value. Do you ever get tired of playing devil’s advocate?

      • JZ71 says:

        What you view as contrarian, I view as realistic. Even though I did not explicitly support items 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 10, in my comments, I agree with them. I also laid out 3 elements that I view as equally (or more) important. Steve’s Item 1 is doable only by providing a pedestrian phase for every signal cycle OR by inventing some sort of high-tech-yet-reliable pedestrian sensor (and the Barnes Dance remains a great alternative in any pedestrian-dense area). Item 3 is a great idea, but it just doesn’t work well in every case – I was disagreeing with the implication that every intersection “needs” to comply, not that it’s a worthy goal in most cases. With 4, again, it’s a great goal, but one that would be difficult to implement at every intersection. And number 9 is another one that implies every street needs street trees and/or street parking, and there are multiple locations where this is impractical.

        While perfect should be the goal at every intersection, you and I both know that that’s a pretty high standard, especially for a city that’s as financially strapped as St. Louis. As Steve has pointed out, repeatedly, it’s the missing links – impassable or missing sidewalks and missing curb ramps – that create far bigger barriers to mobility than do signal timing or not having marked crosswalks on EVERY corner. And, as Mark points out, good design can only do so much, enforcement, of existing laws, for BOTH motorists and pedestrians (and cyclists, truck drivers, transit operators and public safety workers, as well) is critical to making the SYSTEM safer! Yeah, we all think that the world should revolve around “me”, that “I” shouldn’t have to wait for anyone else, but we all also know that urban living is messy, and part of coexisting, successfully, is a willingness to compromise.

        And that gets back to the art of the conversation – I want to have a discussion, to hear what other people have to say, to have them justify their position. It sounds like you just want to hold hands, stand in a circle and sing Kumbaya. To each their own, I guess . . .

        • Mark-AL says:

          Have you ever tried to maintain 13 MPH in a vehicle without riding your brakes? I think my Toyota and I would look for a different route and gladly give all of 16th Street to the bikers.

          • JZ71 says:

            My Toyota’s a manual, so slow and steady is pretty easy; it’s bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic that sucks (as a driver).

          • Mark-AL says:

            Actually, mine is a manual too. When I went to the dealer to buy it, he looked at me as if I didn’t know what I was asking for. It was almost comical.

    • JZ71 says:

      Implementing Item 1, without automatic detection, would be the same thing as removing (the need to push) buttons from elevators – it would require multiple “stops” when no one is there to either appreciate or to use the opportunity! It’s the same logic that argues against adding stops to a light rail line – if you need to stop, every time, even if no one is there, it slows things down for everyone else! Pushing a button, outside of pedestrian-dense areas, is a microscopic “burden” to accept, for the far larger benefit of having a dedicated, protected walk cycle.

    • Riggle says:

      What a car slave, thank god you dont leave the basement

      • JZ71 says:

        So, you’re good with walking into a 24-story building, wanting to get to the 19th floor, getting on the elevator and stopping at the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th floors on the way up? And stopping at the 18th, 17th, 16th, 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th, 11th, 10th, 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd floors on the way down? Just so you don’t have to push a damn button?! You have waaaaaaaaaaaay more patience than I do . . . .

        • Riggle says:

          I walk, so I have to stop at every intersection, and even when I have the right of way people like you honk at me anf threaten my life. But thanks for the pointless analogy, I get. You a car slave

          • JZ71 says:

            You paint with a broad brush – when it comes to pedestrians, I am considerate, as are many other drivers. Your problem is that there is absolutely no enforcement of the existing pedestrian laws within the city, so assholes and the inattentive DO likely threaten your life on a daily basis. But that still doesn’t address your objection to buttons to activate pedestrian walk signals. If you want drivers to give you even less respect than they do now, having them wait, repeatedly, for imaginary pedestrians on a fixed walk phase is a damn good way to do so! Just ask any cyclist – some drivers have no clue that bikes can ride on most roads, even if there is a parallel bike path. Education can take two forms, pleasant (advertising/PSA’s) or unpleasant (cops, courts, lawyers, fines and points). Better engineering will have only a limited positive impact until drivers are forced to look up from their texting, put down their Starbucks, and start to PAY ATTENTION!

  2. The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

    Red Flag! Traffic engineers have one thing on their mind. Moving cars as quickly through an area as possible, pedestrians be damned. Hiring a traffic engineer to design people friendly crosswalks is like hiring a fox to guard the henhouse. Most of the problems of urban/suburban design we continue to suffer today were caused by traffic engineers.

    • Adam says:

      It is pretty absurd that of all people to hire, the city hires a traffic engineer to be its pedestrian ambassador. not at all surprising for St. Louis, though. gotta make sure that drivers are considered first and foremost.

    • JZ71 says:

      umm, no: “Traffic engineering is a branch of civil engineering that uses engineering techniques to achieve the safe and efficient movement of people and goods on roadways. It focuses mainly on research for safe and efficient traffic flow, such as road geometry, sidewalks and crosswalks, cycling infrastructure, traffic signs, road surface markings and traffic lights. Traffic engineering deals with the functional part of transportation system, except the infrastructures provided.

      “Traffic engineering is closely associated with other disciplines, [including,]Transport engineering, Pavement engineering, Bicycle transportation engineering, Highway engineering, Transportation planning, Urban planning [and] Human factors engineering. Typical traffic engineering projects involve designing traffic control device installations and modifications, including traffic signals, signs, and pavement markings.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_engineering_(transportation)

  3. The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

    I see very few wide horizontal crosswalks in St. Louis, as opposed to walkable cities in Europe where they are the norm. Here we have almost invisible crosswalks.

    • Mark-AL says:

      Why don’t we paint the entire street and let pedestrians cross anywhere and whenever they’d like? Like on the back roads of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia–and Missouri?

      • The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

        Jeez, you really hate people who walk. You should really get a job in PR with the automobile industry.

        • Mark-AL says:

          Actually, Ghost, I walk as much or more than anyone I know. I’m on the road 25 days of the month. After work, I head to the gym, then I typically walk around whatever city I’m in for an hour+ or so. No, I’m not employed with any auto-industry-related firm, and I don’t do PR work. My accent turns off the “artsy-crafty” crowd!

  4. Mark-AL says:

    I guess I have an issue with Jamie’s statement (and it obviously reflects his mindset) that traffic engineers need to think like pedestrians rather than like motorists. That mindset is as one-sided as he deems the current design emphasis is.. Actually, the better person to be responsible for pedestrian AND traffic engineering is one who is willing to consider both perspectives-the motorist’s and the pedestrian’s. But in the end, the heavier user has to be given major priority. Right now there are more cars on the streets than pedestrians. Until that changes, we need to design accordingly. And MOST OF US know that NO ENGINEER of any worth would DELIBERATELY compromise public safety just to push his own agenda, and to suggest otherwise is purely ignorant and unworthy of consideration.

    • The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

      “the better person to be responsible for pedestrian AND traffic engineering is one who is willing to consider both perspectives-the motorist’s and the pedestrian’s” Exactly. For 70 years traffic engineers have ONLY CONSIDERED THE MOTORIST PERSPECTIVE. That’s why we are least Pedestrian (People) friendly nation on Earth.

      • Mark-AL says:

        Oh, I don’t know that the US is the least friendly nation on earth as things relate to pedestrians! Ever try to walk around Rome, or Palermo, or Pompeii, even Florence? Do you think those streets are ped-friendly? Downtown Paris, or anywhere near the arch de triumph? Berlin? Even Frankfurt? Spent any time in any major city of China other than Beijing or Chongqing? If so, try to get across any number of their streets even at a crosswalk! Travel to Tel Aviv and walk a few blocks away from the major hotels around the Mediterranean. In those areas, you can’t get across those streets without pointing pistol at the offending drivers. Ever try to get across the street in Jerusalem, Haifa Bay? Good luck! Now travel into Mexico……..and not just in Tijuana! Every city has its problem areas, some more than others, and to say otherwise is unfair and uninformed.

        Not every city in the world is as ped-friendly as many major CA cities (LA, Santa Monica, Brentwood, even Venice, Sacramento, etc). But in CA, pedestrians are ALSO required to live by the rules. Enforcement in STL often doesn’t reach that level!!!My wife was issued a $100.00 ticket for jaywalking in Santa Monica 3 weeks after we moved there. She was unaware of the strict enforcement, but she was definitely aware of the law. There is a difference!! She received and paid the ticket. Now she doesn’t jaywalk–ever.

        • The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

          Jaywalking. An interesting concept. Created by the auto manufacturers to (for the first time in world history) make streets off limits to people on foot. Jay, described a hick from the sticks.


          • Mark-AL says:

            I suppose I am a hick from the sticks. But this “hick” recognizes the importance of rules to govern safe use of streets to better protect both pedestrians and motorists. Without jaywalking laws, more and more kids (and adults) will dart out into traffic and suffer the consequence, like stray dogs do. Ever try to control your vehicle when a dog or deer or bull or even a chicken darts out in front of you? We have little control over those lower forms of the animal world, but humans are capable of conducting themselves in a more orderly fashion. To mitigate that responsibility would be criminal. I grew up in an area where there were no crosswalks except at one signaled intersection “in town”. I learned immediately to yield to the higher power. And I survived quite well.

        • The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

          I said Nation. You are describing random cities. Anyway, you are wrong.

          • Mark-AL says:

            No, sir (or madam),I am not wrong. I negotiate those areas fairly frequently. I survive by keeping my eyes open and my phone in my pocket. Sure, a crosswalk gate at every intersection would help to solve the problem, but surely we’re not going to push the gov’t to legislate that extreme regulation, are we?

          • Mark-AL says:

            Essentially, what difference does it make whether I limit the geographic borders or expand them?
            The bottom line is that traffic engineers need to consider the total picture, not just one element of the picture. And consistent enforcement is the key to maintaining order on the streets. It’s really quite simple, isn’t it? CNN’s report that 80% of motorists currently use their seat belts vs 71% in 2000 proves that enforcement and education/awareness are essential in the fight against our own ignorances.

    • I said he needs to think like a pedestrian. The Streets Dept is full of engineers designing for motorists — he needs to represent the interests of pedestrians & cyclists so we can achieve balance. Decades ago St. Louis began to prioritize cars over people — and we’ve had a steady loss of people, business since. Designing for cars has, and will continue to be, at the expense of pedestrians — until this mindset is changed.

      • The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

        Amazing, Mark AL wants the city Pedestrian coordinator to think like a car manufacturer……Herein lies our problem.

        • Mark-AL says:

          Never wrote or even suggested that! Actually, a car “manufacturer” is concerned with vehicle design, assembly and distribution. A traffic designer’s job is to integrate vehicle useage and pedestrian use of the streets. Different missions!

      • Mark-AL says:

        Actually, he needs to think like both a pedestrian and like a driver. Have you ever attended a little league game where one of the fathers, who OBVIOUSLY has never picked up a bat in his life, ridicules his son or one of his son’s teammates for striking out consistently? I have. Have you ever attended a high school orchestra performance where you hear disapproval from the audience when a kid loses track of his measure and plays a solo when one wasn’t intended? I have. If you’re charged with effectively designing all things traffic/pedestrian-related, you need to consider your experience and knowledge of both perspectives.

        • Mark-AL says:

          Not Max Barton. Try Max Starkloff~!

          • The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

            Mark AL, just go live in the county. That must be paradise for you. No sidewalks. Miles of endless highway. No pedestrians. Strip mall after strip mall. Just dont come to the city and spread your anti-pedestrian poison.

    • tony says:

      “Right now there are more cars on the streets than pedestrians. Until that changes, we need to design accordingly.”

      We don’t have great pedestrian access, so no one walks or rides bikes. When we try to push for better access, we are told “Not enough people walk or ride.” We need the infrastructure first, then the pedestrian use will increase.

      • Mark-AL says:

        No one rides bikes! No one walks? Interesting comment. There’s a brand of vodka that describes it. My god, there are bike lanes in and around streets all over STL, even a building where cyclists can shower and change before going to work, or at least there used to be–. Sidewalks abound! I wonder if people don’t ride as often in STL because of other reasons? Granted, it is easier to ride your bike in Santa Monica than it is in STL, but don’t discount the real progress that has been made in that regard in STL over the past 10 or so years.

        • tony says:

          “Until that changes, we need to design accordingly.”

          The point I am trying to make is we should not wait for increases in pedestrian traffic to increase spending and priority. Clearly we have people riding bikes and walking, but no where near where it could be or where other cities are currently.

          From an SLBJ article:
          “Out of the city of St. Louis’ 2012 population of 318,172, 1.2 percent were bike commuters, up from 0.3 percent in 1990”

          So yes, people ride bikes. But 1.2% is clearly not as good as Davis, Boulder, or Portland. For a similar size city, we have Minneapolis at 4.6%. Clearly there have been huge improvements, but there is much more to be done.

          • Mark-AL says:

            I agree with your argument that more people in other parts of the country ride their bikes, vs in STL. But can you honestly attribute that fact largely to the lacking infrastructure in STL? I think weather conditions influence outdoor activity, and STL winters are harsh and summers are sticky. Boulder’s and Portland’s temps are PERFECT for bicycling–year round! Where I grew up, Elberta, AL, the summers are a bit warmer and a lot more humid than in STL, and there isn’t much bike riding going on there in the summer. But with the mild winters in Elberta, bike riding picks up quite a bit, and the neighboring city of Foley, AL has begun a major bike-trail building effort. And they’re finally installing accessible ramps all over the city!!!! St louis winters are typically harsh and unsuitable for bike riding, leaving only spring and fall for consistent riding. So I wonder how much the sparse biking infrastructure really discourages bike riding in STL.

          • The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

            Look Mark AL, just go live in the county. That must be paradise for you. No sidewalks. Miles of endless highway. No pedestrians. Strip mall after strip mall. Just dont come to the city and spread your anti-pedestrian poison.

          • Mark-AL says:

            I declare: you really must be clairvoyant! But unfortunately, I can’t move back to the country again yet. But soon! Actually, living again in the country would make me happier than ol’ Blue layin’ on the porch, a-chewin’ on a big ol’ catfish head, as my dad used to say! I won’t be interested in any strip malls, since we’ll only need blue jeans, boots and a few shirts to get by in. The sidewalks will be all built out in the next town over, so we won’t need any of them around our little town! People anyway don’t take kindly to walkin’ in our little town–“the roads is dusty” and when it rains–lord, it rains– all the red clay in the soil causes pumping and suction around your feet. You could almost lose your shoes if you had any on. And gettin’ out-ta mud keeps you as busy as a stump-tailed cow at fly time. Yep, it’s paradise all right–you sure got that right. But you know, something we learned on the farm in the country is that a whistling woman and a crowing hen never “comes” to a very good end. And we take that thought to the bank.

          • The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

            I said county. Not country. But whatever. We will be glad to see you go.

          • Mark-AL says:

            Just for that, I’m sticking around so I can be a thorn in your ass!

          • Mark-AL says:

            County vs Country ???Actually, Ghost, I noticed the absence of an “r” in your initial post. And I responded accordingly.
            Our family farm is actually located IN the City of Elberta, COUNTY of Baldwin. A few miles away, you’ll find Elberta County, County of Baldwin. (confusing, a lot like STL, isn’t it?) In the city, everyone is required to have a stoop or a porch outside his front door. In the county, a ship’s ladder or painter’s ladder will suffice. In the city, running water feeds indoor toilets. In the county, that isn’t always the case. There’s no animosity or divisiveness that exists between county vs city folks, or institutionalized tension or strife. (doesn’t sound like STL, does it?) So, Ghost, I’m a city boy! Sorry to break your bubble.
            And you can be sure that I ain’t ain’t agoin’ nowhere.

          • tony says:

            Some more reading on winter cycling commute rates:

            If the bike lanes are there, and they are taken care of, people will bike during colder months:

            “the main factors he’s found to influence winter cycling rates are the
            strength of a city’s bike network (ideally made up of protected bike
            lanes) and how well it maintains this network during the cold and snowy
            months (ideally as a top priority).”

            And since I used Minneapolis as a comparable city, i’ll include winter percentages for them as well:

            We can hardly argue that St. Louis winters are close to Minneapolis/St. Paul.

          • John R says:

            Yup, Cities like Pittsburgh and even Detroit are also starting to leave us behind.

          • Mark-AL says:

            Tony: I would never have believed it if I hadn’t read it with my own eyes! When I lived in STL, I wouldn’t have attempted to ride my bike anywhere in the slush, snow or ice, whether or not the sidewalks,bike paths and curb cuts were carpeted with Armstrong’s best grade! And, when I lived there, the sudden arctic outbreaks made biking a miserable experience at best.I am not one who would find myself riding more in the winter just because a particular street’s infrastructure had been upgraded. But thanks for educating me.

        • The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

          Look Mark AL, just go live in the county. That must be paradise for you. No sidewalks. Miles of endless highway. No pedestrians. Strip mall after strip mall. Just dont come to the city and spread your anti-pedestrian poison.

  5. gmichaud says:

    Design is everything when it comes to demand. It is impossible to make alternate choices if there are none.
    Auto centric design makes no sense. In fact the decline of the St. Louis region in general has been fueled by the over reliance of the auto in lieu of creating environments friendly to pedestrians, bicycles and transit.
    There was an article a few days ago in the Post about Cortex and how they hired a landscape and architectural firm from Denver to help with the urban design and balancing the auto with the pedestrian, bicycle and transit.
    A book, Vallinby and Farsta by David Pass explores this same topic in the building of new suburbs outside of Stockholm.
    It is this same public/policy discussion City Hall has failed to conduct concerning Paul McKee and the Northside.
    Once pedestrians are part of the design for daily living, it will make for safer, more enjoyable pedestrian environments. That is what the Dan Burden video is saying
    Cortex style discussions about balancing the pedestrians, auto, bicycle, transit spheres should be taking place everywhere in the city, but especially right now with the Northside and McKee.
    Where do those discussions come from in City Hall?

    • Mark-AL says:

      My family and I bike as often as we have time.But you could have built a bike path up to my father’s living room door, gifted him a $5.000.00 street bicycle and he would never have ridden that new bike down the path–even in his youth. Certain people are not bikers, and no amount of improved infrastructure will change their spots.I wonder if a lot of STL residents are like my dad in that regard. I think that, if someone wants to ride his bike, he’ll do so, whether or not there’s an accessible ramp off the sidewalk at the end of his block, or whether he’ll be forced to go 40′ out of his way to the nearest driveway apron to cross the street. And a few blocks of riding in street traffic (where a bike path is interrupted) won’t especially discourage anyone who really wants to ride his bike on a given afternoon. When our kids were younger, our family would ride the Katy Trail. Talk about user-unfriendly, given all the gravel and the ruts! But we rode it anyway, because doing so was a cheap, enjoyable afternoon with the kids–and we wanted a safe area in which to ride.

      • gmichaud says:

        Still it is incomprehensible to be building auto only environments, especially in the city, but also everywhere in the region.
        For the most part individual developers do not incur additional costs by including pedestrians, bicycles and transit. For them it is more a question of care in site planning. What is essential though is that the local governing body includes all methods of movement in their planning, ie where is density appropriate, how best to utilize transit as a movement and economic development impetus, how do you create routes for bicycles and so on.
        From a tactical point of view it makes no sense to exclude other forms of movement from planning decisions. It is a poor strategy that is harmful economically and also from a quality of life perspective.
        Auto centric design is lazy, crude and simplistic. A balanced approach is best for human use, for children for the elderly and for everyone else.
        The problem with McKee and his Northside proposal is that it fractures a consistent environment of equality for all. It is much like what has happened in the rest of the city other than historic sections and projects like Cortex. This failure is also to a large extent why St. Louis continues to decline.
        It is the wrong way to build cities. Cities shouldn’t be exclusive and only built for automobile traffic.
        I realize there are people who won’t ride bikes, or walk under any circumstances. However, if a culture and city of pedestrians and bicycles is built, it is far more likely that people will embrace that culture over time.
        It is just like the Katy Trail. Who would have guessed there would be a demand for bicycling out in the boonies? The trail is very successful. It was partially modeled after other trails across the nation I believe, but nevertheless it is a good example of people using infrastructure after it is built. In the same way the city needs the proper infrastructure to serve all forms of movement and all people, in other words an inclusive city that encourages something other than auto usage.
        As a side note, I had a small farm outside Defiance overlooking the Katy trail, in fact I remember the trains before the flood of 93. I used the trail regularly with my family and never had problems with ruts and problems you cite. You must of used the trail at a period when it was ready for maintenance.
        Finally I would say Mr. Wilson should be spearheading opposition to McKee’s plan, otherwise what use is he? His job becomes another useless bureaucratic position otherwise.

        • Mark-AL says:

          I’m not suggesting that the condition of the gravel surface was anything like a field in the fall after harvesting potatoes with a potato plow. We’re talking “ruts” not “furrows”.

          In response to the point of your post: down south in Foley, when locals see all the accessible ramps and bike paths/sidewalks under construction, they shake their heads and mumble under their breath things they would never say outloud. There aren’t 9 people in town who use a wheelchair although several enjoy riding electric carts in Walmart and Piggly Wiggly. All the hifalutin’ “confoundry” puzzles them. It takes time–sometimes lots of time–for people to open their eyes and see the whole picture.

          • The Ghost of H L Mencken says:

            Go live in the county. That must be paradise for you. No sidewalks. Miles of endless highway. No pedestrians. Strip mall after strip mall. Just dont come to the city and spread your anti-pedestrian poison.

          • JZ71 says:

            Autonomous cars . . . I hear that they’re a comin’, and they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread!

          • Mark-AL says:

            Ain’t that the berries!

          • Mark-AL says:

            Why, Ghost, driving them there ol’ people to the Piggly Wiggly will be as easy as sliding off a greased log backwards. I do believe I can handle it. And you know, them ol’ people will probably get around easier in a car than on a bicycle or even on-foot.

  6. The question is what will be done differently, and what is the comprehensive strategy in the midst of a declining revenue source? As Jamie mentioned, the mundane is and has been the focus for streets–a series of short and long listed repair tactics barely scratching the surface and years of a lack of bold vision. I am pretty sure it kind of sucks to be him at the war zone of one of the worst pedestrian focused cities in the united states.


    I wouldn’t count on much to change if there is not a commitment from (his/our) leadership to embrace vision zero. Our leaders must admit first that there is no other priority than safety.


    As for social engineering, it’s called planning with bold leadership–acknowledging and putting forth a strategy to change the built environment to accommodate our desire to love our community and the space we live in, rather than simply tolerate it. We can make St. Louis great again, it starts at the next election.

  7. JLD11 says:

    Biking will ease traffic congestion as well, especially now that every major route seems to be under construction. https://www.theparkcatalog.com/blog/bike-parking-racks-ease-congestion-woes/

  8. Tony says:

    love this. wish i’d have seen it in February.


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Where am I? Name the intersection and the 3 buildings that are visible.

ANSWER: Jefferson Hotel/Arms at Tucker @ Locust. Christ Church cathedral can be seen through the opening. At left you can see a little of the Park Pacific Apartments (Union Pacific bldg)
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7 hours ago  ·  

Where am I?

ANSWER: Looking northbound at the Tucker median from the Locust Street crosswalk.
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3 days ago  ·