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Poll On The Decision To Not Have Bike-N-Ride In St. Clair County IL

ABOVE: Metro bus without a bike rack at 5th & Missouri in East St. Louis, IL
ABOVE: St. Clair County Metro bus without a bike rack at 5th & Missouri in East St. Louis, IL

Monday I posted about how the Chair of the St. Clair County Transit board, Delores Lysakowski, doesn’t allow bike racks on the buses serving 15 municipalities in that county.  On Thursday the St. Louis Beacon looked into the story with more, although somewhat conflicting, reasons why an entire county in our region doesn’t have bike bike racks on the front of their buses:

Delores Lysakowski, chairwoman of the St. Clair County Transit District, says the racks damage the buses when they go through the bus wash.

“When they go through the wash rack, they tear the heck out of the bus,” she said.

But Bill Grogan, managing director of St. Clair County Transit District, has a slightly different tack. He says the racks damage the bus wash brushes. “The washers don’t damage the racks, but the racks can damage the washers,” he said. “They get stuck in those spinning brushes.” (full story: Want to bike and ride on Metro buses in St. Clair County? Forget it)

So which is it? Do the racks damage the buses or the brushes? Both? Neither?

ABOVE: A Madison County Transit bus at 5th & Missouri in East St. Louis IL
ABOVE: A Madison County Transit bus with a bike rack, at 5th & Missouri in East St. Louis IL

Neighboring Madison County, like Metro in Missouri, sees the benefits:

Madison County Transit (MCT) has equipped all of its buses with bike racks to provide accessible connections between the MCT bikeway and bus systems. Now people throughout Madison County can simply BIKE AND BUS for transportation and recreation. In fact, MCT carries an average of 800 bikes each month, which equal more than 12,000 bike and bus participants and growing since 2003. (source)

In the full story, linked above, writer Kathie Sutin goes to Metro to ask them about their experience with washing buses with bike racks. In short it takes some extra labor to wash around the racks, but it is worth it.  Back in St. Clair County the attitude is they made the decision in the past not to have bike racks so it is not open for discussion.  This whole thing doesn’t sit well with me but I want to get a sense on your thoughts so the poll this week (right sidebar) is on this subject.

Thanks to the St. Louis Beacon and writer Kathie Sutin for digging into this issue!

– Steve Patterson


No Bike-N-Ride In St. Clair County Illinois

ABOVE: A bike rack on the front of a Metro bus at the CWE station
ABOVE: A bike rack on the front of a Metro bus at the CWE station

Using bike racks on the front of local buses is a great way to combine two efficient modes of transportation but interestingly those in St. Clair County don’t know the benefits.

Sometimes two-wheel transportation just isn’t enough to get you there. All MetroBus vehicles, except those in St. Clair County, IL, are equipped with easy-to-use external bike carriers. (emphasis added)

The above is the first sentence of Metro’s Bike-N-Ride page.  Really, no bike racks? Metro buses in Missouri all have racks as do buses operated by Madison County Transit.

ABOVE: A Madison County Transit bus at 5th & Missouri in East St. Louis IL
ABOVE: Bike rack on a Madison County Transit bus at 5th & Missouri in East St. Louis IL

I found it hard to believe that one county in our region had bus service sans bike-n-ride.  I had to see for myself.

ABOVE: Metro bus without a bike rack at 5th & Missouri in East St. Louis, IL
ABOVE: Metro bus without a bike rack at 5th & Missouri in East St. Louis, IL

Sure enough, the buses operated by Metro and serving St. Clair County IL don’t have bike racks.  I’ve been told if a bus from Missouri is reassigned to St. Clair County the rack is removed.  For me this is a “WTF?” moment.

ABOVE: Metro bus without bike rack at the Belleville IL MetroLink station
ABOVE: Metro bus without bike rack at the Belleville IL MetroLink station

Don’t blame Metro, they are under contract with the St. Clair County Transit District:

The St. Clair County Transit District (SCCTD) was created in 1981 under the Illinois Mass Transit District Act. SCCTD does not operate any buses directly but has executed contracts with others to provide transportation service for the fifteen townships that make up the District. The fifteen Townships in the District include:Belleville, Canteen, Caseyville, Centreville, East St. Louis, Engelmann, Lebanon, Mascoutah, O’Fallon, St. Clair, Shiloh Valley, Smithton, Stites, Stookey, Sugarloaf

How is it possible that a transit board, appointed by the chairman of the St. Clair County board, could short change so many?  So I asked why no bike-n-ride.  I received a very prompt reply:

“Because the chairperson of the st. Clair county transit district board does not want them on the buses. Her name is Delores Lysakowski. You can contact her mon- fri at 618-628-8090.”

ABOVE: bikes at the Belleville IL MetroLink station in St. Clair County
ABOVE: bikes at the Belleville IL MetroLink station in St. Clair County

So one person decided an entire county should receive a different level of bus service than others in the region! Thankfully she hasn’t disconnected the wheelchair lifts — yet. If you disagree with Delores Lysakowski’s decision to prevent bike-n-ride in St. Clair County, please contact St. Clair County Transit to let them know.

– Steve Patterson


Readers Favor Enforcing Noise Ordinances

noiseResponse to the poll last week was very low. Here is the question and final results:

Q: The City of Alton IL is issuing tickets to drivers of noisy motorcycles & cars. Thoughts?

  1. Good, more jurisdictions should enforce noise ordinances 36 [58.06%]
  2. The noise is annoying but these laws are not enforceable 13 [20.97%]
  3. Unsure/no opinion 6 [9.68%]
  4. Bad, more government meddling 4 [6.45%]
  5. Other answer… 3 [4.84%]

Other answers were:

  1. i am sure I don’t care.
  2. I think the law will be enforced more on the appearance of the driver/rider.
  3. Motorcycles are often times ubnoxiously loud. Regulate them.

Any additional thoughts you might have add them to the comments below.

– Steve Patterson


Poll: Regulating Noise From Motorcycles

In January one Illinois town took steps to keep the town quiet:

ALTON – A motorcycle rights and safety promotion group plans to pay for signs to “quiet” motorcycles in Alton, as city officials begin the process to strengthen the city’s anti-noise ordinance.

“We are going to be leaders in this,” said Alton Mayor Tom Hoechst, who campaigned on quieting down motorcycles traveling on city streets and loud car stereos. Telegraph

This week KMOV reporter noted “To date, police have issued 37 tickets to bikers in violation of the ordinance and 133 to motor vehicle drivers.”

The poll this week asks for your thoughts on enforcing noise ordinances.

– Steve Patterson


A trip to Belleville Illinois

On Monday I was on our MetroLink light rail system heading eastbound into downtown St. Louis to return home.  I had bought a 2-hour pass to give me the freedom to stop along the way to explore, as a I done the week before when I stopped at Grand. But then it hit me, I should visit Belleville, IL.

I’d been to Belleville only a few times in the last 20 years, always as a motorist. I’d only gone into the downtown once and that was probably 15 years ago.  It was a nice day and I knew from others that the light rail station was close to their downtown.  When I arrived it was unclear which way I should head so I boarded the “Main Street” bus after confirming with the driver it would get me to their Public Square. Fares paid on the Metro system are good in St. Clair County where Belleville is located. Metro East cities like Granite City, Collinsville and Edwardsville are served by Madison Country Transit and require additional fees.

The sidewalks along Main Street and around the large traffic circle in the center of the Public Square have been redone recently. Folks from other municipalities in our region should visit Belleville to see first hand.  Even better, visit in a wheelchair to see how the ramps and crosswalks work compared to most — which don’t work well.

Aligning ramps opposite each other seems obvious but to often engineers miss this.  The width of the ramp is nice too because it prevents a conflict when meeting others that need the ramp (wheelchair, stroller, etc).

In the City of St. Louis, for example, ramps are often placed at the apex of the corner.  In the above picture that would be the area between the two black bollards.   The problem with that is pedestrian traffic in both directions are squeezed into the apex.  Often when I cross a street I must go outside the crosswalk area to line up with the ramp and then ask people who are waiting to go the other direction to move aside. I’ve found the able-bodied like to use the ramps rather than stepping down from a curb.

Belleville’s solution solves those issues. Not every intersection had the above full corner ramp — others had a ramp for each crosswalk. Navigating the sidewalks of Beleville was much easier as a result.

I didn’t see any spectacular individual buildings but that was fine with me, the sum of the ordinary buildings along Main Street was greater than the parts.  The scale was pleasing and I saw many pedestrians — I was there at lunchtime.  I stopped in a Quizno’s and there was a neighbor of mine from two floors down.  Small world.

Like every Main Street Belleville has some bad buildings from the second half of the last century as well as a gap or two. Hopefully the corner spot shown above will get new construction soon.

One of the best things they did was bring out the curb at some corners to block the end of the on-street parking.  This reduces the length of crosswalks and slows down motorists.

In other cases this extra sidewalk was put to good use as a place for outdoor seating for the adjacent restaurant.

From my short bus ride to downtown I knew Charles Street would take me directly to the station. On the bus ride I was looking to see if I thought it would be accessible for me — it was indeed.

The above ramp is a type that St. Louis should have in many places. I was able to stay in line with the crosswalk and just continue on my path.  In St. Louis the ramp would have been directed at a 45° angle to the curb/crosswalk, requiring me to leave the crosswalk to get onto the ramp.  St. Louis does ramps that way because those can serve two directions at once.  But in the above case there is no where to cross the street in the other direction — there is only one way anyone would approach this ramp.  Belleville made sure the ramp faced that one direction, St. Louis has had a habit of doing the same treatment for ramps regardless of different conditions.

Approaching the station, a little less than a mile later, the pedestrian sidewalk continues.

Pedestrians don’t have to walk through a parking lot behind cars.  Crossing drive areas are minimized and marked.  Even those who drive to this station can use the central sidewalk to walk into the station rather than just in the parking area.

I bought enough bus & MetroLink passes in May & June that I went ahead and bought a monthly pass for July. So look for more posts from throughout the region as I explore via transit.

– Steve Patterson