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Dangerous Reaching Bus Stop On Manchester At Hampton

Last week I was near Manchester & Hampton doing research, I arrived & departed on the #32 (ML King-Chouteau) MetroBus. Arriving the bus was headed West on Manchester, so the stop was on the adjacent sidewalk. For the return trip I needed to catch the bus as it headed East on Manchester — no sidewalk on that side.  But there is a just big enough concrete pad.  I didn’t get a pic from across the street but you can see it on Google Street View here.

It took a while but I finally got a break in traffic where I could quickly cross Manchester to the stop I needed.

Looking North from Metro Stop ID: 13572
Looking North from Metro Stop ID: 13572
Looking West I was concerned the bus driver wouldn't be able to see me. A path was worn in the grass from others using this stop.
Looking West I was concerned the bus driver wouldn’t be able to see me. A path was worn in the grass from others using this stop.
The ground was also worn East of the stop.
The ground was also worn East of the stop.

I was right at the edge waving as the bus approached. Another passenger got off at my stop so she stood close to my wheelchair on the small pad while the driver extended the lift so I could board. Would the driver have seen me if a passenger wasn’t wanting to exit at my stop?

I had wanted to go to the next stop to the East where I could cross at a crosswalk, but vegetation (upper left of last photo) blocked the sidewalk.

So who’s responsible?

  • Metro
  • MoDOT
  • St. Louis

All three are involved, but fragmentation means the pedestrian experience here sucks. The quick solution is to trim the vegetation in both directions. A crosswalk with warning signs for motorists to stop for pedestrians would be relatively cheap. I’m going to email Ald. Vollmer (10th) & Ald. Ogilvie (24th) to let them know about the issues here.

— Steve Patterson

 

Over A Month To Move One Trash Can

When I spotted a trash can sitting in the middle of a curb ramp last month I thought it would be a simple matter to get it moved. Boy was I wrong!

On the morning of July 17th I posted the following image on Facebook & Twitter, stating “Trash can placed on curb ramp SW corner 14th & Pine”

My text read "Trash can placed on curb ramp SW corner 14th & Pine"
My text read “Trash can placed on curb ramp SW corner 14th & Pine”

At the end of the tweet I mentioned @stlcsb — to report problem to the Citizens Service Bureau.

The CSB responded: “What are you asking or saying about it?” At this point many others joined the conversation, not always including me in the loop. In short, others could see the problem from the pic but the CSB: 1) thought I or someone else was talking about the car making a left turn in the background, 2)  was confused by the term “curb ramp” and told me it’s a “wheelchair ramp” — more on that later, 4)  that the containers don’t belong to the city — they just empty them. The tweets went back and forth for nearly 4 hours! Finally I got a Service Request number, which I favorited for future reference.

A curb ramp is the term used by the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Federal Highway Administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation. They’re not called “wheelchair ramps” because many pedestrians use them — such as those who walk with a cane or walker, for example. Plus it’s six fewer letters.

Nearly 3 weeks later, on August 5th, I passed by and noticed the trash can still hadn’t been moved.  I realize not everything can be done immediately but often little things are addressed quickly. So I posted another image on Facebook & Twitter noting “Trash can blocking curb ramp SW crnr 14th & Pine, reported to (no 7560493) on 7/17 still in the way.”

The text read: "Trash can blocking curb ramp SW crnr 14th & Pine, reported to @stlcsb  (no 7560493) on 7/17 still in the way."
The text read: “Trash can blocking curb ramp SW crnr 14th & Pine, reported to @stlcsb (no 7560493) on 7/17 still in the way.”

This is a good time to note that I had no problem getting around the trash can in my power chair. My concern wasn’t for me — it was for others who use a manual wheelchair, came, walker. Trying to navigate the flared side can present problems! I didn’t want someone else wheeling in the road or falling because of this ill-placed trash can. This is a curb ramp I use often — the trash can had’t been there before in the last 7 years.

Two days later I heard from Dena Hibbard, a Neighborhood Stabilization Officer (NSO) asking if it had been moved.  I replied it hadn’t, then she said my service request was closed — city staff indicated it was not blocking the ramp. WTF!?! We keep in touch and finally she got through to someone in Refuse. I got word on August 20th it was finally moved off the ramp.  A few hours later I go by on the way from from the grocery store.

The trash can is now out of the ramp.
The trash can is now out of the ramp.
The circle shows where it had been.
The circle shows where it had been.

It shouldn’t have taken more than a month and lots of effort to get this moved! I’m grateful Dena Hibbard follows my blog/social media, without her help it wouldn’t have gotten moved. The best part is her area is the 9th Ward — but this ramp is in the 7th Ward.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Missed Opportunity With New Downtown Hotel Sidewalk

August 17, 2015 Accessibility, Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Missed Opportunity With New Downtown Hotel Sidewalk

Another  downtown hotel is about to reopen:

After being shuttered since 2011, the original Hotel Lennox – once known as St. Louis’ tallest hotel – will re-open Sept. 2, the same day that the hotel originally opened in 1929, as The Courtyard by Marriott St. Louis Downtown/Convention Center Hotel. The newly revitalized hotel will be one of the most unique and historically significant Courtyard-branded hotels in the country. The hotel has undergone a significant renovation, with an investment of over $22M into the property during a 16-month restoration. (KMOX)

Los Angeles-based Maritz Wolff & Co. will own and manage the property. It bought the Renaissance Suites this year for $3.2 million from the bondholders who owned it. Lewis Wolff, co-founder and chairman of Maritz, Wolff & Co., and Phillip “Flip” Martiz, its co-founder and president, sold the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton for $56 million in December 2012 to Bruce Karsh and his Clayton St. Louis Property LLC.

The development and management team from Maritz Wolff is led by Patrick Lowery and Jeffrey Barone. (St. Louis Business Journal)

The narrow Washington Ave facade, 9th Street on the left. Our convention center is on the right.
The narrow Washington Ave facade, 9th Street on the left. Our convention center is on the right.

Thankfully the renovations included the new sidewalks you can see above, replacing the failed stamped concrete fake brick sidewalk that was installed about 15 years ago, when it reopened as the Renaissance Suites. The sidewalk is totally new, but they did one thing exactly as it had been: the location of the curb ramp across the auto driveway to the East.

The sidewalk width is generous and people tend to walk in the center. But those of us using wheelchairs are forced to use ramps pointing diagonally into the street. This new work should've had a wide ramp area in the natural flow of pedestrian traffic, not a ramp pointing into the street out at the corner.
The sidewalk width is generous and people tend to walk in the center. But those of us using wheelchairs are forced to use ramps pointing diagonally into the street. This new work should’ve had a wide ramp area in the natural flow of pedestrian traffic, not a ramp pointing into the street out at the corner.

You might say they were just matching the ramp on the East side of the driveway. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

View looking West across driveway
View looking West across driveway. In the winter snow gets piled up blocking ramps placed at the curb rather than the natural pedestrian flow closer to the buildings.

When new concrete is poured it should be done right, now continue an early 1990s mistake. If new work makes incremental improvements then eventually downtown will be more pedestrian-friendly.

This pedestrian crossing of Morgan St is a good example.
This pedestrian crossing of Morgan St is a good example.

In high pedestrian areas such as between the hotel and convention center this reduces the chances someone will trip & fall on a curb. As this is part of the public right-of-way (PROW), not private property, the city should’ve ensured this was done differently.

— Steve Patterson

 

Work Portion of Live/Work Units Must Be Wheelchair Accessible

For a couple of years I’ve been watching & writing about changes at 901 Locust St. The former Board of Education building, built in 1893, was converted into loft-style apartments at least a decade ago. The ground-floor retail space, however, has struggled.

So the building’s new owner removed the old storefronts and installed new ones — more open. I questioned how these spaces would meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and building codes:

1103.2.13 Live/work units. In live/work units constructed in accordance with Section 419, the portion of the unit utilized for nonresidential use is required to be accessible. The residential portion of the live/work unit is required to be evaluated separately in accordance with Sections 1107.6.2 and 1107.7.

Live/work units are dwelling units in which a significant portion of the space includes a nonresidential use operated by the tenant/owner. Although the entire unit is classified as a Group R-2 occupancy, for accessibility purposes it is viewed more as a mixed-use condition. The residential portion of the unit is regulated differently for accessibility purposes than the nonresidential portion.

The floor area of the dwelling unit that is intended for residential use is regulated under the provisions of Section 1107.6.2 for Group R-2 occupancies. The requirements for an Accessible unit, Type A unit or Type B unit would be applied based upon the specific residential use of the unit and the number of units in the structure. The exceptions for Type A and Type B units set forth in Section 1107.7 would also exempt such units where applicable. For example, a two story dwelling unit above the work unit in a non-elevator building would never be subject to Type B requirements due to the exemption in Section 1107.7.2. The code does not clarify if a two story live/work unit with the business on the entire first floor and the residence on the entire second floor would be considered a multi-story dwelling unit for purposes of the exception in Section 1107.7.2.

In the nonresidential portion of the unit, full accessibility would be required based upon the intended use. For example, if the nonresidential area of the unit is utilized for hair care services, all elements related to the service activity must be accessible. This would include site parking where provided, site and building accessible routes, the public entrance, and applicable patron services. In essence, the work portion of the live/work unit would be regulated in the same manner as a stand-alone commercial occupancy.  (International Code Council)

In May 2014 I showed the new storefronts going in but obvious changes in grade along 9th St
In May 2014 I showed the new storefronts going in but obvious changes in grade along 9th St

Perhaps one big retail space with an accessible entry off Locust? A 24/7 pharmacy like CVS or Walgreens? Nope, the owner has built apartments on the ground floor — billing them as “live/work” units.

901 Locust
901 Locust

The six live/work units range from $1,295/mo for a 760 sq ft one bedroom to $1,995/mo for a 2,480 sq ft 2-story 2-bed unit. All include another entrance connecting to the building, but it’s not clear how disabled customers would reach these doors, if at all.

The live/work units facing 9th, and the one on the Locust corner, are not directly accessible from the sidewalk.
The live/work units facing 9th, and the one on the Locust corner, are not directly accessible from the sidewalk.
One space doesn't appear to be live/work, but it might be. Haven't checked this ramp yet but it doesn't appear to be ADA-conpliant .
One space doesn’t appear to be live/work, but it might be. Haven’t checked this ramp yet but it doesn’t appear to be ADA-conpliant .
Two live/work units do have accessible public entrances -- both off Locust
Two live/work units do have accessible public entrances — both off Locust
Unfortunately, I expect we'll see a lot of closed blinds
Unfortunately, I expect we’ll see a lot of closed blinds

If you rent one of the spaces without direct sidewalk access please note your business will be responsible for ADA compliance.

 

Tucker & Chouteau: Pedestrian Button Far From Curb Ramp

Yesterday’s post was about the bike lanes on Chouteau that aren’t there…yet. While I was photographing the absence of bike lanes late last month I noticed something else as I crossed Chouteau at Tucker. The annoying pedestrian crosswalk buttons aren’t next to the curb ramp where they should be.

I'm at the ramp to cross Chouteau going South, the pedestrian button is on the back side of the silver pole! The visible button the side of the pole to cross Tucker heading East. 
I’m at the ramp to cross Chouteau going South, the pedestrian button is on the back side of the silver pole! The visible button the side of the pole to cross Tucker heading East.
Looking back North you can see the pole and the ramp at the corner.
Looking back North you can see the pole and the ramp at the corner.

Pedestrian buttons should be reachable from the ramp, not 20 feet away! Personally I don’t think pedestrians should have to seek out and press button to get a walk signal — they should be automatic.  Imagine driving and having to know just where to stop at a red light to give you a green light.

Pedestrian buttons are great for the sight-impaired. If done properly, once activated, it’ll verbally announce to the user when the walk sign is on and that it’s ok to cross. The rest of us shouldn’t have to press a button to get a walk signal.

Chouteau is maintained by MoDOT, I’ll alert them and the city about this.

— Steve Patterson

 

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