Twice now I have visited Schlafly’s Bottleworks in Maplewood (map) using public transit. Being disabled, I arrived at the site in my power wheelchair after departing the bus. The issue of access is the same for the able-bodied using transit or by walking from the surrounding area.
While it is great Schlafly reused an old grocery store building it is unfortunate their architect/engineer didn’t include a walkway to connect to the public sidewalk on Southwest. Â During the $5 million construction work, in 2003, a patio was added out front and the parking lot was reconfigured. It is at this time that a walkway should have been added to connect the public sidewalk to the front door.
As you can see from the above photo the distance to reach the walk next to the patio just isn’t that great. From an aerial view it looks like this:
The amount of effort that would have been required, at the time the work was done, would have been minimal. Â Even today the effort isn’t much, including the loss of one auto parking space.
Hopefully Schlafly’s will see fit to correct theirÂ pedestrian access deficiency. Based on my conversation with the manager last night I think they will.
Walkability & accessibility are two subjects that are important to me. Ideally places would be both walkable & accessible, but that is rare. Â The minimum, for me, is accessible. Â But being accessible, ADA-compliant, isn’t remotely close to being walkable.
Walkable, in my mind, requires active tree-lined streets with generous sidewalks. Â In residential areas the buildings may be set back a bit from the sidewalk, but not too much. Â Someone on the sidewalk should be able to converse with someone on a front porch. Â Residential sidewalks should connect to a nearby commercial area no more than 1/4 mile away. Â The commercial district will have a variety of adjacent buildings all fronting onto the public sidewalk. Â Building fronts shall mostly be glass windows & doors, not blank walls. Â Public transit is available in walkable areas.
Accessible, in my mind, means a disabled person can navigate the area. Â This includes someone in a wheelchair as well as deaf or low vision/blind persons.
The CVS and Arby’s are both accessible but neither is walkable. Â Yes, someone can walk there along the accessible route but neither contributes to a walkable environment.
I reluctantly accept that not everyplace is going to be built walkable but I refuse to accept anyplace not being accessible from the public sidewalk adjacent to the property.
The Starbuck’s, above, closed after being open less than a year. Â It was drivable, but not walkable or accessible.
I wrote: “On my next visit I will see if I can go around the former Mark Shale space to reach the entry by Restoration Hardware.” I visited again on Wednesday and discovered I could reach an entrance with automatic doors.
More distance but hey I’ve traveled a long way already.
So I can access the mall without working my way through the parking lot or struggling with a manual door. Â But nobody should have to travel that far to reach an accessible entrance. Â The Galleria needs to look at building some new structures between Brentwood Blvd and the mall, aligned with the Galleria Parkway that leads to the transit station.
Scroll up and look at the aerial again, the ramps on west side of Gustine crossing Utah point into the center of the intersection, not at the crosswalk. Â These new improvements are a step in the right direction, but not without flaws.
Forest Park is a major regional asset, larger than New York’s Central Park. Many people live within walking distance of the park but reaching the park isn’t an easy task. Â This post is about trying to safely reach Forest Park via Skinker & Clayton Ave.
If you look the image above, with the top intersection being Clayton & Skinker, you can see crosswalks don’t cross either into Forest Park.
Pedestrians (able-bodied & disabled) need to reach Forest Park.
The “Cross County” MetroLink extension opened in August 2006. Â In that time many would expect new development and increased walkability around the new stations but we had no plan beyond the line. Â I’d plan for and require dense development and walkability over time. Â But Â not in our region, here we can spend hundreds of millions on transit infrastructure but not change the land planning to justify the infrastructure capital investment.
To make the transit investment worthwhile there must be nearby destinations (housing, office, retail, etc) and the ability to walk to/from transit and these nearby destinations. In cities where transit is planned and zoning is changed in anticipation of a transit line you get new dense & walkable development occurring before the line even opens for riders.
In May 1988 a small mall in the St. Louis suburb of Richmond Heights began planning to expand, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on May 15, 1988:
“Earlier this month, Hycel Properties Co. announced an ambitious plan to quadruple the size of the Saint Louis Galleria. The Richmond Heights shopping mall will add four department stores, 100 new specialty stores, a 300-room luxury hotel, two covered parking garages and up to three office buildings.”
At the time both sides of Brentwood Blvd was lined with buildings. Â The developer needed help from the Richmond Heights:
“The St. Louis Galleria said Monday that it would seek eminent domain power from the city of Richmond Heights to acquire 94 of the 113 commercial buildings and houses in the Clay North neighborhood.” – P-D Aug 30 1988
Richmond Heights granted the power of eminent domain but did nothing to ensure pedestrians could also reach the expanded Galleria. Â The mall has five entrances to the outdoors and a few more connecting to the parking garage along the west side of the mall. The expansion was built in the early 1990s, after the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 became law.
The expanded Galleria would be open for nearly 15 years before the MetroLink light rail line would open nearby but since the mall is surrounded by housing & businesses they should have planned for customers to arrive on foot rather than behind the wheel. In a minimal way, they did but I’ll get to that in a bit.
I did “drive” my wheelchair through the parking lot to reach the nearest entrance – once. On my next visit I followed the perimeter sidewalk trying to access an entrance without risking my life wheeling through the parking lot.
That’s right, the other four entrances have sliding door that open automatically but this entry has standard doors! The door on the right has a wheelchair sticker at the bottom but no opener so I don’t get why. Â But I was able to get past the doors and the set of doors right behind but it involved considerably more work than wide sliding doors.
On my next visit I will see if I can go around the former Mark Shale space to reach the entry by Restoration Hardware. A lot of work to reach the mall, someone working at the office building just across I-64 would never travel this far on foot to the mall on their lunch break or after work. Â Nor would they walk through the parking lot from the public sidewalk along Brentwood. Â The Galleria at Clayton & Brentwood could have easily been designed with pedestrian routes to five entrances. Â Very little effort, very little cost — but lasting benefits.
In August 2010. a year after opening, door openers have been added to the two front doors at Culinaria downtown.
These went up just days after I posted about the absence of them. Â These were already in the works so my post had nothing to do with them being installed. Â They were just waiting to determine if the State of Missouri was going to foot the bill for their installation. You see, we taxpayers own the 9th Street Parking Garage where Culinaria is located.
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