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Accessibility Details: Soap Dispensers & Trash Receptacles in Public Restrooms

September 10, 2018 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Accessibility Details: Soap Dispensers & Trash Receptacles in Public Restrooms

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 there was Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973:

Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was the first disability civil rights law to be enacted in the United States. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs that receive federal financial assistance, and set the stage for enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Section 504 works together with the ADA and IDEA to protect children and adults with disabilities from exclusion, and unequal treatment in schools, jobs and the community. (Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund)

Section 504 was added to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 four years later, in 1977.  It has been over four decades since we first began to construct buildings accessible to the disabled, and more than three decades prior to my becoming disabled due to a stroke in February 2008.  Though significantly better than they were decades ago, things still aren’t quite right.

Today a few of minor examples: public restroom soap dispensers & trash receptacles.

After using a public restroom the ability of me to use soap to wash my hand depends on access to the soap dispenser. At the Culinaria grocery store downtown the two soap dispensers are wall-mounted very high in corners. When I’m in my wheelchair it takes a lot of stretching to reach the one on the right. Not everyone who uses a wheelchair can stretch that far.

DuPont, formerly Solae

At Solae (now DuPont) at CORTEX, the soap dispenser is on the side of the sink — much easier to reach — but I still can’t get any soap from it.

This dispenser is very long, it’a designed for use with two hands — one to press down so soap comes out on the other.

I have two hands, but use of my left remains very limited. Shorter dispensers of this type I can use one-handed, pressing down at the back while getting soap on part. Long dispensers like the one at Solae/DuPont is completely useless to me.

Soap dispensers are, generally speaking, specified when buildings are designed/constructed.  My other issue is with trash receptacles, this is either because a good location wasn’t part of the original design or the occupants moved them to be in the way.

BJC’s recently completed Center for Outpatient Health on the NW corner of Forest Park & Euclid
I love how the main entrance off Euclid is a very wide ramp, with steps off to the side — the opposite of so many older buildings with wide steps and a narrow ramp on the side.
I also love how inside they have touch-free “buttons” to open bathroom doors.
Thankfully the first floor bathroom has two sinks & paper towel dispensers, because the trash receptacle prevents me from reaching the left side.  These soap dispensers are mounted low enough to be usable.

In the restroom above there really is no other spot where a trash can could be located. This might have been a good candidate for one under the vanity with the hole in the center, or a wall-mounted paper towel/trash unit.

To make matters worse, what doesn’t work for me may work great for another disabled person. And vice versa.

The take away from this post is details matter. Architects, designers, facilities managers, occupants, and owners of public buildings need to think about the little things. Hiring a disability expert  to review projects during design can reduce user issues.

Still, I’m grateful for the ADA, building codes, etc. that have made public restrooms significantly better than they were decades ago.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Well-Used Bus Stop Is A Muddy Hole After It Rains

August 20, 2018 Accessibility, Featured, Public Transit, Transportation, Walkability Comments Off on Well-Used Bus Stop Is A Muddy Hole After It Rains

Usually when I go to my regular doctor I take either the #97 (Delmar) MetroBus or MetroLink to connect with the southbound #90 MetroBus at Goodfellow or Forest Park station, respectively. However, depending on the bus schedule and my appointment time I’ll take the #10 MetroBus from Olive @ 16th to the Gravois-Hampton MetroBus Transit Center, and then catch the #90 MetroBus heading northbound. The alternative takes about 15 minutes longer, but often will get me to my destination closer to my appointment time.

The #10 (Lindell-Gravois) MetroBus ends at the transfer center on the NE corner of Hampton & Gravois

But I only take the Gravois-Hampton alternate if it hasn’t rained recently. You see, the bus stop I use to catch the Northbound #90 is a muddy hole if it has rained recently.

The bus stop is where thw standing water is on this October 2014 photo.

‘The Northbound #90 bus stays on Hampton rather than pulling into the transit center. Riders getting off/on must use the grassy tree lawn.

At the bus stop looking South toward the MetroBus transit center
Looking North, note the bus stop sign is mounted very high on the poll — and facing the street. I couldn’t read the stop ID from my wheelchair.
Cropping later I could see it’s stop #3275
The tree lawn is quite wide here, you can see how the grass is well-worn.
Up close I could see a tire track likely made when it was muddy

Even dry this stop is a problem when boarding. When the bus driver puts out the ramp/lift it leaves a huge gap my chair must get up — this is because all the use has worn this spot down so it’s lower than the curb and surrounding grass. Recently I was waiting in the grass just before the stop to avoid this problem. It’s adenegrated  experience for everyone dry or wet, impossible for us wheelchair users when wet.

Metro occasionally gets grants to improve accessibility of MetroBus stops — #3275 needs to be toward the top of the list for improvement.

— Steve Patterson

 

Crosswalks Meet At One Curb Ramp, Rather Than Two

August 28, 2017 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Crosswalks Meet At One Curb Ramp, Rather Than Two

Recent work downtown has been mostly good for pedestrians, but Saturday night my husband and I found an awful corner: the NE corner of Market & Broadway.  This is the SW corner of the Old Courthouse. I;m not sure who gets the blame, the possible culprits are city streets dept, city board of public service (BPS), MoDOT, National Park Service, or Gateway Arch Park Foundation.

Most new work has gotten away from placing one curb ramp at the apex at the corner, instead doing a ramp/crosswalk to cross each street. This improves ADA-compliance and reduces inconveniences for all pedestrians.

We had to cross the ramp on the NE corner of Market & Broadway as we crossed Broadway. Both times the ramp was full of pedestrians waiting to cross Market. Both times I had to ask others to move.

Heading back to Kiener Plaza I snapped this photo of the crowd at the corner, two guys on the left are avoiding the crowd at the corner by walking in the street — not an option for those of us who use mobility devices.
In this crowed view you can see hoe the one crosswalk is angled to meet the sole curb ramp.

The idea is to get Arch visitors to start in Kiener Plaza, so this corner should see many pedestrians. It amazes me each crosswalk doesn’t lead to its own curb ramp.

No, I’m not amazed. I’ve experienced first hand how even brand new work ism’t designed by people who think like pedestrians.

— Steve Patterson

 

Wheelchair Users Locked Out Of St. Louis Public Park

August 25, 2017 Accessibility, Featured, Parks Comments Off on Wheelchair Users Locked Out Of St. Louis Public Park

Since moving downtown nearly a decade ago I’ve spent a lot of time in Lucas Park, just two blocks to the East. Unfortunately, the city has me locked out of the park. Lucas Park has four entrances — two along the South edge off Locust St, and two along the North edge off St. Charles Sr. The city’s parks department keeps the two South gates locked and opens the North gates during the day. The problem is the two North gates both have steps.

When I first began visiting Lucas Park only one ramp existed — the South entrance nearest to 14th. When the dog park was added a 2nd ramp was installed near the North entrance nearest to 13th. That pedestrian gate gas unlocked by the nearby gate at the ramp does not. It’s impossible for me, while using my power wheelchair, to use Lucas Park.

The SW gate is locked on Wednesday August 23rd @ 8:32am.
The NE gate for the ramp was also locked
An hour later, on the way home from the grocery store, the park still looks inviting.

Wednesday I emailed the first two photos to a couple of city officials and posted them to social media. Yesterday was also a very nice day, I tried to visit the park again on my way to the grocery store.

A couple of people were working out in the park at 1:50pm
Again, the SW gate to the original ramp was locked
The NW gate was unlocked
It has steps down
The NE gate to the newer ramp was locked
The NE gate with steps was wide open
I can see into the park, I just can’t get inside
The SE gate was locked.

As I understand it, city parks dept employees come out to unlock the NE & NW gates, but don’t unlock the NE gate for the ramp. I don’t think this is deliberate, just another example of people not thinking.

— Steve Patterson

 

16th & Market Curb Ramp Slightly Less Shoddy Than It Was

July 31, 2017 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on 16th & Market Curb Ramp Slightly Less Shoddy Than It Was

Over a year ago I posted about one of the many poorly design/constructed curb ramps in this city, see Shoddy Curb Ramp/Crosswalk At 16th Street & Market St  from May 2016. Here are a couple of images from that post:

May 2016: The pained crosswalk was to left of the line, but most pf the ramp was to the right. Plus, the ramp violated the “no lips” rule. One corner of the tactile surface hangs over the curb!
May 2016; Looking West across 16th St at Market, note the location of the crosswalk relative to the detectable warning mat.

At some point in the last year I was told the city will be correcting this ramp. I’ve been through this intersection a lot over the last few months and hadn’t noticed a change — until the other day. While I was glad to see the city hadn’t forgotten about it, I was disappointed by what was done.

The old ramp was torn out and a new one poured. New asphalt fills in the gap that was removed to form the new ramp.
Another view. Like most ramps, this one is still too high so the asphalt helps make up for the error. Not ADA-compliant.
Looking West. Hopefully the crosswalk will be changed at some point, but the ramp still directs you into the intersection.

So the city has gone from an “F” to a “C-“. How much did this cost? What does it take for the city to do A or B work?

I know, I should just accept this city doesn’t care about pedestrian like it does motorists, crappy pedestrian infrastructure has been the norm for too long.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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There’s enough room on sidewalks for cafe tables, signs, scooters, etc.; but only if thoughtfully placed — not next to each other. Turns out my power wheelchair can easily knock scooters out of the way...#stl ... See MoreSee Less

23 hours ago  ·  

Noticed Friday morning downtown signals were changed to give pedestrians a signal a second or two before traffic gets a green light. Yay, this is very helpful to us pedestrians! Is it citywide? #stl ... See MoreSee Less

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