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A Detailed Look at the Streets of St. Charles

Last month I posted about the Streets of St. Charles after driving through it, see Indulge In Urban Living’ At Streets of St. Charles. In that post I wrote:

To most residents of St. Charles County this is more urbanity than they ever thought they’d see on their side of the Missouri River.

A decade or more ago this site would’ve been developed as a big box with an even bigger parking lot. Smaller buildings would’ve dotted the perimeter. Visitors would’ve been expected to arrive via car and to drive to reach other buildings on the site.  From my brief observations, it appears the planners have made sure pedestrians can reach every building via a sidewalk.

While I’m not going to give up my downtown loft to live here, it’s an improvement over old-school development patterns.

I didn’t feel I could be too harsh based on just driving through. So, later in February, I returned in my power wheelchair so I could spend more time there —  to see how well it works…or doesn’t. Within the project boundaries it works fairly well, they’ve made a much better effort than most developments to make sure each business is accessible as a pedestrian. Attempting to reach adjacent & nearby developments proved difficult, though the blame for that isn’t necessarily the fault of this developer.

To reach the Streets of St. Charles I took the St. Charles Area Transit's I-70 bus from the North Hanley station in St. Louis County, click image to see post in new tab/window
To reach the Streets of St. Charles I took the St. Charles Area Transit’s I-70 bus from the North Hanley station in St. Louis County, click image to see post in new tab/window

I arrived at just before 10am — in need of a bathroom. I knew the adjacent Quik Trip would be a good choice.  Just how to get to it.

I know the QT is on the other side of this, office building -- the first built on the site
I know the QT is on the other side of this, office building — the first built on the site
Staying on the sidewalk near the office building i end high up, overlooking the QT
Staying on the sidewalk near the office building i end high up, overlooking the QT
Continuing I'm down lower, but no access route from here
Continuing I’m down lower, but no access route from here
Back on the West side, on the lower sidewalk heading right toward the QT
Back on the West side, on the lower sidewalk heading right toward the QT
Even though planned and built simultaneously, nobody thought to connect them! Pavers were added to keep people out of the planter -- but that doesn't work for me.
Even though planned and built simultaneously, nobody thought to connect them! Pavers were added to keep people out of the planter — but that doesn’t work for me.
So I turn West, towered 5th St, to see if I can find a way into the QT
So I turn West, towered 5th St, to see if I can find a way into the QT
Looking back
Looking back
Crossing the drive heading South
Crossing the drive, heading South
The sidewalk on the QT side of the drive looks like it wants to go into the development -- but no.
The sidewalk on the QT side of the drive looks like it wants to go into the development — but no.
On the South (far) side of the QT now
On the South (far) side of the QT now
Found it!
Found it!
From the back side of the QT, looking North toward the office building -- no pedestrian connection
From the back side of the QT, looking North toward the office building — no pedestrian connection
From the front side of the QT, looking North toward the office building -- no pedestrian connection
From the front side of the QT, looking North toward the office building — no pedestrian connection
Back out along 5th St I see signs for the charming historic district ahead -- too early for lunch. Oh never mind, the sidewalk doesn't continue past this driveway
Back out along 5th St I see signs for the charming historic district ahead — too early for lunch. Oh never mind, the sidewalk doesn’t continue past this driveway
I'm back along the North St that connects 5th to Main, this woman parked in the parking lot, right, then walked through the planter to reach the crosswalk. Nobody seemed to plan a way for motorists to walk from their cars to the buildings!
I’m back along the North St that connects 5th to Main, this woman parked in the parking lot, right, then walked through the planter to reach the crosswalk. Nobody seemed to plan a way for motorists to walk from their cars to the buildings!
I headed toward Main St, the East edge of the development, The sidewalk here seemed narrow.
I headed toward Main St, the East edge of the development, The sidewalk here seemed narrow.
The parking garage entrance
The parking garage entrance
The pedestrian entry to the garage, the movie theater on the left
The pedestrian entry to the garage, the movie theater on the left
I went up to the top level of the garage. Here we see the back of the residential building -- which hides the garage from view
I went up to the top level of the garage. Here we see the back of the residential building — which hides the garage from view
Looking North from the top level of the parking garage we see site prep underway for the Drury Hotel to be built soon, I-70 beyond. My lunch destination is just out of view to the left.
Looking North from the top level of the parking garage we see site prep underway for the Drury Hotel to be built soon, I-70 beyond. My lunch destination is just out of view to the left.
Back on the sidewalk, heading East toward Main St
Back on the sidewalk, heading East toward Main St
Looking South along Main St
Looking South along Main St
But I want to see if I can get to the historic Main Street from here, since I couldn't via 5th St
But I want to see if I can get to the historic Main Street from here, since I couldn’t via 5th St
Heading North, about to go under I-70. The Ameristar Casino complex can be seen in the upper right
Heading North, about to go under I-70. The Ameristar Casino complex can be seen in the upper right
I must cross over to the East side of Main St to continue heading North
I must cross over to the East side of Main St to continue heading North
Good crosswalk, though pedestrian refuge in the middle would've been comforting
Good crosswalk, though pedestrian refuge in the middle would’ve been comforting
Looking back
Looking back
After going under I-70 the sidewalk suddenly ends -- just shy of the casino & hotel entrance drive and the South end of the historic district. So I turn around and head back.
After going under I-70 the sidewalk suddenly ends — just shy of the casino & hotel entrance drive and the South end of the historic district. So I turn around and head back.
As you can see I was close. The distance between this new development and the casino is only a half mile.
As you can see I was close. The distance between this new development and the casino is only a half mile.
I stayed on the East side of Main St, the AMC theater is on the left, the new hotel will be on the right
I stayed on the East side of Main St, the AMC theater is on the left, the new hotel will be on the right
The pedestrian crossing sign had been run over
The pedestrian crossing sign had been run over
It still wasn't 11am so I stopped and had a hot chocolate at Picasso's, ground floor of the residential building
It still wasn’t 11am so I stopped and had a hot chocolate at Picasso’s, ground floor of the residential building
I leaned public restrooms are in the adjacent hallway connecting the parking garage to the street
I leaned public restrooms are in the adjacent hallway connecting the parking garage to the street
There are several of these places to cross the center of the street or sit on a bench --- not ADA-compliant,
There are several of these places to cross the center of the street or sit on a bench — not ADA-compliant,
Heading North for lunch, the hotel will be built to the right
Heading North for lunch, the hotel will be built to the right
Looking West at restaurants under construction. In the foreground is another non-ADA crossing
Looking West at restaurants under construction. In the foreground is another non-ADA crossing
My destination is Pieology Pizza
My destination is Pieology Pizza
I can cross here, a raised crosswalk
I can cross here, a raised crosswalk
Construction workers to the West managed to put cones in the pedestrian path. I was able to move the first and go around the others
Construction workers to the West managed to put cones in the pedestrian path. I was able to move the first and go around the others
This is what most developments miss -- being able to access every building on the site. A Noodles & Co will open in the space next door
This is what most developments miss — being able to access every building on the site. A Noodles & Co will open in the space next door
Accessible crossing toward the future hotel
Accessible crossing toward the future hotel
Pieology Pizzeria is one of several quick pizza chains where each is made right in front of you
Pieology Pizzeria is one of several quick pizza chains where each is made right in front of you
My pizza & salad
My pizza & salad
After lunch I noticed the center median has a path, but it isn't really accessible because vertical heights are too tall
After lunch I noticed the center median has a path, but it isn’t really accessible because vertical heights are too tall
In the end, the feeling of urbanism is very limited to this block.
In the end, the feeling of urbanism is very limited to this block.

The internal site issues are pretty easy to correct, including a direct connection toward QT. Other problems, beyond the site, are more complex. St. Charles City, St. Charles County, MoDOT, etc all need to play a role in better connecting this site to its surroundings.

— Steve Patterson

 

Metro Makes Long-Needed Changes at 18th & Clark, Still Violates ADA

In a couple of weeks Metro’s new North County Transit Center will open, so many MetroBus routes will see major changes:

Metro’s quarterly service change on March 14 will impact the operations of 48 MetroBus routes in the St. Louis metropolitan region, including the introduction of nine new MetroBus routes and discontinuation of service on eight routes. This service change will also introduce a new and completely redesigned MetroBus service plan for North St. Louis County, made possible with the opening of the new North County Transit Center in Ferguson, Missouri on March 14. (Metro)

On that same day, changes will take place in downtown (technically Downtown West):

The Civic Center Transit Center is scheduled to be closed down for construction activity shortly, at a date to be decided. In advance of the closure, Metro has prepared bus stops at 18th Street & Clark Street, adjacent to the Union Station MetroLink, to provide the same system connectivity. 

The routing and schedules of the routes serving the Civic Center Transit Center have been modified to serve 18th Street & Clark Street to ensure the same connections with the other MetroBus routes and MetroLink at Union Station instead.

Please note that till the closure of the Civic Center Transit Center, these routes will continue to serve the Civic Center Transit Center. Public Announcement of the closure of the Civic Center Transit Center will be made in advance of the event. (Metro)

The following MetroBus routes will change to include 18th & Clark.

  • 10 Chippewa
  • 32 ML King-Chouteau
  • 41 Lee
  • 73 Carondelet
  • 80 Park-Shaw
  • 94 Page
  • 97 Delmar
  • 99 Downtown Trolley
  • 40X I-55 Express
  • 58X Twin Oaks Express
  • 410X Eureka Express

When I need to catch the #10 Westbound I do so at 16th & Olive, but starting March 14th it’ll use 18th rather than 14th Street. Same goes for the #97  — I usually catch it at 16th & Washington but it’ll turn on 18th.  Those who ride the #94 & #97 to Washington & 14th, then catch the #99 Downtown Trolley to take them the rest of the way into the Central Business District (CBD), will need to figure out an alternates. Perhaps catching the Trolley bus at Civic Center/18th & Clark? That’ll require more time though — years ago more bus routes entered the CBD.

For a few months now I’ve been watching the changes at 18th & Clark. I posted about the upcoming Civic Center changes in 2014, see Civic Center Transit Center Sans Trees, Awaiting Redo.

Before I get into the recent changes along Clark I want to show you the before conditions, in October 2011 & August 2012.

Looking west toward the Union Station MetroLink Station from 16th & Clark, October 2011.
Looking west toward the Union Station MetroLink Station from 16th & Clark, October 2011.
At 18th pedestrians had worn a more direct path since MetroLink opened in 1993, October 2011
At 18th pedestrians had worn a more direct path since MetroLink opened in 1993, October 2011
The crosswalk to Union Station led directly to a curb, those of us in wheelchairs had to go outside the crosswalk and use the auto exit, at right -- a clear ADA violation for years, August 2012
The crosswalk to Union Station led directly to a curb, those of us in wheelchairs had to go outside the crosswalk and use the auto exit, at right — a clear ADA violation for years, August 2012

Ok, so now you’ve seen the before. In December last year I began seeing work going on so I braved the cold one day to get some pics:

The asphalt in the parking lane was removed, sidewalk & curb ramp at 16th also removed, December 2015
The asphalt in the parking lane was removed, sidewalk & curb ramp at 16th also removed, December 2015
The old bricks were visible, street trees gone, December 2015
The old bricks were visible, street trees gone, December 2015
The corner was completely opened up, forms were placed for new concrete, December 2015
The corner was completely opened up, forms were placed for new concrete, December 2015
Looking West across 18th you can see the curb & sidewalk have been removed, December 2015
Looking West across 18th you can see the curb & sidewalk have been removed, December 2015
From the West side of 18th looking back, December 2015
From the West side of 18th looking back, December 2015

I was encouraged seeing the West end of the crosswalk completely removed — a fresh start so it’ll be done correctly! I returned a month later, in late January:

Now we can see the sidewalk has been widened, replacing half the parking lane, January 2016
Now we can see the sidewalk has been widened, replacing half the parking lane, January 2016
About halfway between 16th -18th the extra sidewalk narrows to the original width, January 2016
About halfway between 16th -18th the extra sidewalk narrows to the original width, January 2016
Looking across 18th we see at the end of the crosswalk --- A NEW CURB! WTF!?!
Looking across 18th we see at the end of the crosswalk — A NEW CURB! WTF!?! January 2016
Pedestrians taking the direct route from MetroLkink East across 18th, with the ramp on the left, January 2016
Pedestrians taking the direct route from MetroLkink East across 18th, with the ramp on the left, January 2016

I returned again, a month later, on February 26th:

The widest park, near 16th
The widest park, near 16th, February 2016
Temporary bus shelters added in the narrow section makes it tight, February 2016
Temporary bus shelters added in the narrow section makes it tight, February 2016
There are new benches in places , February 2016
There are new benches in places , February 2016
Crosswalk not yet changed to include the new curb ramp, February 2016
Crosswalk not yet changed to include the new curb ramp, February 2016

The ramp location behind the crosswalk is a head scratcher, for sure. I resisted the urge to post it to social media — opting to wait until the project is closer to completion.  I even went back yesterday to see if the crosswalk had been changed. It hasn’t. I also discovered another problem: pedestrian signal location.

I arrived on the West side just as people pushing a stroller used the ramp to cross 18th
I arrived on the West side just as people pushing a stroller used the ramp to cross 18th
That's when I noticed the pedestrian signs, far right, wasn't visible. The ramps also aren't aligned, but we already knew they wouldn't.
That’s when I noticed the pedestrian signs, far right, wasn’t visible. The ramps also aren’t aligned, but we already knew they wouldn’t.
The pedestrian signal is visible only when way South pf the ramp & crosswalk
The pedestrian signal is visible only when way South pf the ramp & crosswalk
From the same spot you can see the ramp. My chair is very fast so I was able to wait for the walk signal then move to the ramp & cross -- but not everyone can move so quickly
From the same spot you can see the ramp. My chair is very fast so I was able to wait for the walk signal then move to the ramp & cross — but not everyone can move so quickly
From the East side you can see the back of the pedestrian signal and how it doesn't relate to the other side
From the East side you can see the back of the pedestrian signal and how it doesn’t relate to the other side

The best words that come to mind are gross incompetence. Both sides were completely opened up — all new concrete. That was the time to move pedestrian signals so they align with the crosswalk, to build the new ramps so they also align. I’m not sure if St. Louis’ new bike-pedestrian coordinator reviewed this, but other civil engineers did see it on paper. This is yet another thing making me realize I need to live in another city.

— Steve Patterson

 

Local Example of Light Rail in Center of Street

For a while now I’ve been trying to convey how disastrous light rail in the center of Natural Bridge & Jefferson would be. I kept trying to think of a local example, but then the 2006 light rail extension in the center of Forest Park Parkway in Clayton came to mind.

Southbound traffic on S. Meramec in Clayton see a wall and right turn only signs at Forest Park Parkway
Southbound traffic on S. Meramec in Clayton see a wall and right turn only signs at Forest Park Parkway. Click to view in Google Street View
To achieve higher speeds,places to cross would be reduced through the use of concrete walls.
To achieve higher speeds,places to cross would be reduced through the use of concrete walls.

Such walls preventing pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists and crossing the street except at a few points would be horrible for the surrounding neighborhoods. Do as I did — go to the interception of Meramec & Forest Park Parkway and see if you think that would be good for Natural Bridge or Jefferson.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

St. Louis Fails At Crosswalks, Part 2

Monday, in Part 1, I explained why St. Louis officials shouldn’t be shocked their colorful art crosswalks don’t meet federal guidelines. They’re less visible than the classic bright white “continental” crosswalk.

Decorative crosswalk crossing Manchester at Sarah was installed in 2015
Decorative crosswalk crossing Manchester at Sarah was installed in 2015
From 2011: A freshly painted "continental" crosswalk at 17th & Olive
From 2011: A freshly painted “continental” crosswalk at 17th & Olive

From the Federal Highway Administration (FHA):

8.5 Crosswalks
Crosswalks are a critical part of the pedestrian network. A crosswalk is defined as “the portion of a roadway designated for pedestrians to use in crossing the street” (Institute of Transportation Engineers, 1998). Crosswalks are implied at all intersections whether or not they are marked. Midblock crossings include all marked crosswalks that do not occur at intersections. Midblock crossings are only created if a marked crosswalk is provided. The agency responsible for the roadway must ensure that all marked and unmarked crosswalks and midblock crossings are optimized for the safety and accessibility of all pedestrians.

8.5.1 Crosswalk markings
Crosswalk markings, if provided, are used to define the pedestrian path of travel across the roadway and alert drivers to the crosswalk location. Marked crosswalks should be designed in accordance with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Although the MUTCD provides options for crosswalk markings, the continental design is recommended because research indicates that it is the most visible to drivers (Knoblauch et al., 1988). The ladder design is created with white longitudinal lines at a 90 degree angle to the line of the crosswalk. The lines should be approximately 305 mm to 610 mm (12 in to 24 in) wide and spaced 305 mm to 610 mm (12 in to 24 in) apart (USDOT, 1988). The continental design can also be installed so that the primary paths for vehicular tires are between the crosswalk markings, which helps to reduce wear and maintenance. Use of the continental design for crosswalk markings also improves crosswalk detection for people with low vision and cognitive impairments. It is recommended that the continental design be used consistently to mark all crosswalks; otherwise the impact of less visible markings may be weakened by comparison.

They make it very clear that “continental” crosswalk markings are preferred. The design is such that, if properly done, allows vehicle tires to roll over the non-painted areas — thus reducing wear on the paint.  The last sentence above is worth repeating:

“It is recommended that the continental design be used consistently to mark all crosswalks;
otherwise the impact of less visible markings may be weakened by comparison.”

Crosswalk markings downtown are anything but consistent, the continental marking is rare.

From the National Association of City Transportation Officials:

While pedestrians generally have the right to cross at any intersection regardless of crosswalks, designers should be sensitive to the misperception that a crosswalk is the only legal place to cross the street. Use crosswalks as both a guide for pedestrians and a way to communicate crossings to motorists.

The practice of discouraging pedestrian crossings by leaving uncontrolled crossings unmarked is not a valid safety measure. Instead, it encourages unsafe, risk-taking behavior and discourages walking citywide. Efforts should be made to enhance or highlight desired crossings wherever practicable. Hybrid beacons, rapid flash beacons, raised crossings, medians, and other safety counter-measures may be suitable and less expensive than full signalization. These should all be considered before leaving an uncontrolled crossing unmarked.

But we can’t afford to mark every possible crossing point — how do we determine when to mark and when to leave unmarked?

All legs of signalized intersections must have marked crosswalks unless pedestrians are prohibited from the roadway or section thereof, or if there is physically no pedestrian access on either corner and no likelihood that access can be provided. Pedestrians are unlikely to comply with a 3-stage crossing and may place themselves in a dangerous situation as a result.

Let’s look at 14th Street from Washington Ave to Olive Street to see how inconsistent St. Louis is with crosswalks:

Crossing 14th at Washington Ave the decorative brick crosswalk isn't as visible as the bright white continental design
Crossing 14th at Washington Ave the decorative brick crosswalk isn’t as visible as the bright white continental design
At St. Charles Street (glorified alley) there's no signal, no stop sign. There are two continental crosswalks
At St. Charles Street (glorified alley) there’s no signal, no stop sign. There are two continental crosswalks
The North side of Locust at 14th, a signalized intersection, has no crosswalk marking
The North side of Locust at 14th, a signalized intersection, has no crosswalk marking
The South side of Locust at 14th is the same -- n o crosswalk marking. Behind ,me is a school, the main library across 14th.
The South side of Locust at 14th is the same — n o crosswalk marking. Behind ,me is a school, the main library across 14th.
An aside -- the unmarked crosswalk leads to a non-compliant curb ramp that I pointed out prior to completion of the library.
An aside — the unmarked crosswalk leads to a non-compliant curb ramp that I pointed out prior to completion of the library.
Olive at 14th is the basic parallel white lines. Still more visible than the expensive decorative brick crosswalk at Washington Ave
Olive at 14th is the basic parallel white lines. Still more visible than the expensive decorative brick crosswalk at Washington Ave

I’d like to think St. Louis’ new bike/ped coordinator will be able to make a difference — but for so long pedestrians got half-ass infrastructure. Not sure one bureaucrat can change the culture.

— Steve Pattersin

 

 

St. Louis Doesn’t Care About Pedestrians, Recycling Bins Still Blocking Sidewalk

Over two years ago I posted about recycling dumpsters blocking a public sidewalk on the West side of Target, At the time Clifton Ave was being resurfaced so I wasn’t sure if they were on the sidewalk temporarily.

The six recycling bins, oriented to the street, viewed from across Clifton Ave
September 2013: The six recycling bins, oriented to the street, viewed from across Clifton Ave

In the time since I’ve noticed them still on the sidewalk, but I was passing by on Chippewa and couldn’t get a picture. Yesterday, Target had the Chippewa entrance to the lower level parking closed, so we turned onto Clifton Ave. — so I stopped the car to get a pic.

December 27, 2015. Click image to view in Google's Street View
December 27, 2015. Click image to view in Google’s Street View

Recycling is important, but so are pedestrians!  All pedestrians should be able to go from Chippewa to Bancroft — that’s why the sidewalk exists.

Here’s what needs to happen:

  1. Move the bins into the street, OR
  2. Add more sidewalk behind the bins, OR.
  3. Relocate the bins elsewhere

I’d love to know who made the decision to block the public sidewalk.

— Steve Patterson

 

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