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New Downtown Rain Garden Reduces Sidewalk Width Too Much

ABOVE: New rain garden in the 11th St sidewalk between Pine & Olive

Here is an addition to downtown you may have missed, here was the press release:

ST. LOUIS, November 10, 2010 – The Downtown Community Improvement District (CID) has installed its first demonstration Rain Garden at the corner of 11th and Pines Streets. One of the CID’s goals for this project was to catalyze a trend toward more sustainable streetscapes in the city. The 11th Street pilot project employs a new segmental wall and curb system, called Freno, that offers a cost-effective, modular method of building an urban rain garden.

This rain garden was designed to capture rain water from the gutter and adjacent parking lot, prior to reaching the sewer system. This sustainable landscape does not require watering and gives back to the environment by specifically designated plants and soil mix that filter out 80-90% of the pollutants from car fluid and road treatment chemicals.

Rain gardens have been designated in the downtown St. Louis streetscape plan and they are gaining popularity in downtowns across the nation and abroad. With this in mind, the need for sustainable landscapes in downtown is becoming more and more important.

The materials and labor that went into the construction of this rain garden has been 100% donated by the City of St. Louis Department of Streets, HOK, Midwest Products, St. Louis Composting, Forrest Keeling Nursery, and the Downtown CID.

This Downtown Next priority is brought to you by the Downtown CID – dedicated to a cleaner, safer, more vibrant and greener Downtown. Downtown St. Louis is a regional leader in sustainable practices.

I like rain gardens, they do a great job of reducing water runoff.

ABOVE: Close up look at the rain garden, which replaced a former driveway
ABOVE: one of two places where water from the gutter will run into the rain garden

But I also like sidewalk space and this new rain garden consumes way too much of the width of the sidewalk.  Eliminating a driveway into the adjacent parking lot is a very good thing but with the reduced width of the sidewalk I’m concerned about cars parking too far forward.

ABOVE: fencing around small parking lot at 10th & Olive

Ideally there would be fencing to prevent cars from parking so their front ends don’t further squeeze the sidewalk space.  Simple wheel stops in the parking lot would solve the problem on the cheap.  The rain gardens on 9th & Market (Citygarden) extend out from the curb line into what is normally the parking lane.  Here, on 11th, parking is not permitted next to the rain garden so the street width is excessive for the two travel lanes.  The curb to curb for the roadway is too wide but the sidewalk width was cut in half. Typical.

ABOVE: trash accumulated in the rain garden on one visit

The problem of trash will be ongoing.  Good intentions, poor execution.

– Steve Patterson


Readers: Use Cards To Educate Rather Than Shame

October 13, 2010 Parking, Sunday Poll 5 Comments
ABOVE: While the poll was ongoing I encountered the above SUV trying to cross a street connecting to Demun.

The poll last week got lots of diverse responses but the biggest group thinks I should use a bit of guilt (“I’m disabled…”) but should otherwise educate those who park in disabled spaces, block crosswalks, etc:

Q: How should I phrase cards to leave on cars blocking disabled parking spaces, pedestrian crosswalks, curb ramps, etc?

  1. I’m disabled, how you’ve parked can make things difficult for me and others. 74 [43.53%]
  2. I’m disabled, I don’t like how you’ve parked, the authorities have been notified, pic posted on Twitter & Facebook 36 [21.18%]
  3. Don’t leave anything, just let it go 14 [8.24%]
  4. Other answer… 13 [7.65%]
  5. Forget a card, key their car 11 [6.47%]
  6. I’m disabled, I don’t like how you’ve parked, the authorities have been notified 10 [5.88%]
  7. You insensitive jerk, I hope you end up disabled like me someday 7 [4.12%]
  8. Unsure/no opinion 3 [1.76%]
  9. I’m disabled, I don’t like how you’ve parked 2 [1.18%]

All of the answers I provided in the poll were things I thought at times I encounter a poorly parked car.  I’d never damage anyone else’s property but for a brief moment just the thought of keying an offending car brings satisfaction.  Mostly I do nothing other than take a picture but I want to have a pre-written card with me to cover those times I don’t want to let it go.

The 13 other answers were:

  1. attach a chain to the axle “American Graffiti” style
  2. Choice 4 with the Facebook and Twitter part added.
  3. kiss or kill me. you pick.
  4. Collective Action: No
  5. I like the car you’ve got – but recommend posting it with tenacious adhesive
  6. I’m disabled, how you’ve parked can make things difficult for me and o Monday,
  7. If you have the balls to leave a card, you better put your conact info on it too
  8. Grow up
  9. move your piece of crap
  10. the first option with an image of you in your wheel chair giving them the finger
  11. just call the cops, be(come) the squeaky wheel
  12. Good idea, but it also sounds really whiny.
  13. I would print out the MO code for this and leave it on their car
ABOVE: As if the driver wanted to block the curb ramp I needed to keep from traveling in the street.
ABOVE: Revised card

The following are just some of the other examples where a card would have been nice to leave behind:


img_0017img_0881img_1945img_0229I’ll be ordering the revised card soon so I will have them with me when I run into more examples.

– Steve Patterson


Poll: Help Me Determine The Message To Leave On Some Cars

October 3, 2010 Parking, Sunday Poll 30 Comments

For the poll this week I’m asking what should be printed on the cards I’m going to get to leave on cars parked like this:

ABOVE: This car is parked in the loading zone next to a disabled parking space on Washington Ave.

I see things like this often and I want to do something about it but 1) the police are too busy, 2) parking violations is closed, 3) I can’t wait for the person to come back, 4) and if I had paper & pen I can’t write legibly.

Here is one example of what I was thinking:


To harsh or not enough?  I have listed several ideas in the poll, all have come to mind.  The poll is at the top of the right sidebar.

– Steve Patterson


Two Years Remaining On Disabled Placard

September 30, 2010 Parking 5 Comments
ABOVE: My disabled hang tag expires two years from today
ABOVE: My disabled hang tag expires two years from today

I got this disabled placard in May 2008, after three months in the hospital, following a massive hemorrhagic stroke.  At the time I still couldn’t move much of my left hand & arm but I was still getting back function so I was hopeful that by the time the permit expired I wouldn’t qualify for a renewal.  I have better stability now, I walk around the house often without my cane and sometimes without wearing my leg brace. But it is now clear to me that I’ve reached a plateau in my recovery, I’m permanently disabled.

When I registered my car two month later, in July 2008, they asked me if I wanted disabled plates.  I said no since I had the placard and I had every plan to not need the permanence of disabled plates.  When I renew my plates in July 2012 I will switch to disabled plates so I no longer have to remember to hang the placard when I park somewhere, driving with it hanging is illegal.

No doubt you’ve seen someone that doesn’t appear disabled using a permanent disabled placard.  Who qualifies for one?

Section 301.142.1 RSMo defines “physical disability” as listed below::

  1. The person cannot ambulate or walk 50 feet without stopping to rest due to a severe and disabling arthritic, neurological, orthopedic condition, or other severe and disabling condition.
  2. The person cannot ambulate or walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device.
  3. The person is restricted by a respiratory or other disease to such an extent that the person’s forced respiratory expiratory volume for one second, when measured by spirometry, is less than one liter, or the arterial oxygen tension is less than 60 mm/hg on room air at rest.
  4. The person uses portable oxygen.
  5. The person has a cardiac condition to the extent that the person’s functional limitations are classified in severity as Class III or Class IV according to the standards set by the American Heart Association.
  6. The person is blind as defined in Section 8.700, RSMo.

For a while 50 feet was a long walk for me but it is #2, above, that will always apply to me.

If I live as long as my dad did, 78, that means I’ll have 35 more years as a disabled person.  That is rather hard to comprehend as it has only been 25 years since I graduated from high school.

Despite my disabilities, I love my life.  I don’t want pity. I know so many people, able-bodied & disabled, have far worse issues to deal with. My life is charmed in comparison.

– Steve Patterson


The Design of Parking Garages Has Changed Over The Years

I find myself touring our many parking garages — to check how they are used, their condition and so on.

img_0097Our older garages are not space efficient at all.  The buildings they replaced were considered “obsolete” for modern use but we know how to adapt old buildings to new uses. Old garages just languish.

The old spirals for ramps gave way to sloping parking decks to get you from level to level, this is what we still have today.  I hope to see much more efficient parking systems here one day.


Parking like this would allow us to replace our above ground garages with…buildings occupied by humans.  Some might say we have cheap land so there is no incentive to build more compactly. To that I’d say we have policies that have encouraged poor use of land. We need to change our policies so we use our core urban area more efficiently.

– Steve Patterson