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The Schlafly Bottleworks Lacks Pedestrian Route To Front Door

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ABOVE: One of two automobile entrances at Bottleworks with the entrance in the background

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.  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.

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ABOVE: pedestrians can see, but not reach, the front door from the sidewalk

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:

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ABOVE: the blue line represents the short path to connect to the public sidewalk

The amount of effort that would have been required, at the time the work was done, would have been minimal.  Even today the effort isn’t much, including the loss of one auto parking space.

Hopefully Schlafly’s will see fit to correct their pedestrian access deficiency. Based on my conversation with the manager last night I think they will.

– Steve Patterson

Accessible Not The Same As Walkable

Walkability & accessibility are two subjects that are important to me. Ideally places would be both walkable & accessible, but that is rare.  The minimum, for me, is accessible.  But being accessible, ADA-compliant, isn’t remotely close to being walkable.

ABOVE: Downtown Belleville is an example of walkable with narrow streets and buildings up against the sidewalks.  Main St is also accessible.
ABOVE: Downtown Belleville IL is an example of walkable with narrow streets and buildings up against the sidewalks. Main St is also accessible.

Walkable, in my mind, requires active tree-lined streets with generous sidewalks.  In residential areas the buildings may be set back a bit from the sidewalk, but not too much.  Someone on the sidewalk should be able to converse with someone on a front porch.  Residential sidewalks should connect to a nearby commercial area no more than 1/4 mile away.  The commercial district will have a variety of adjacent buildings all fronting onto the public sidewalk.  Building fronts shall mostly be glass windows & doors, not blank walls.  Public transit is available in walkable areas.

Accessible, in my mind, means a disabled person can navigate the area.  This includes someone in a wheelchair as well as deaf or low vision/blind persons.

ABOVE: ADA-compliant access route to CVS at Gravois & Hampton/Germania
ABOVE: ADA-compliant access route to CVS at Gravois & Hampton/Germania
ABOVE: ADA-compliant access route to Arby's on Lindell

The CVS and Arby’s are both accessible but neither is walkable.  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.

ABOVE: short-lived Starbucks in Soulard is neither walkable nor accessible
ABOVE: short-lived Starbuck's in Soulard is neither walkable nor accessible

The Starbuck’s, above, closed after being open less than a year.   It was drivable, but not walkable or accessible.

– Steve Patterson

The Galleria Revisited

On October 11th I posted Reaching The Galleria Not Easy For Pedestrians and noted the accessible route let to the one entrance that didn’t have automatic doors.

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ABOVE: The entrance directly inline with the access route from post on the 11th

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.

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img_0846More distance but hey I’ve traveled a long way already.

ABOVE: Blue line represents my path from the nearby light rail station
ABOVE: Blue line represents my path from the nearby light rail station

So I can access the mall without working my way through the parking lot or struggling with a manual door.  But nobody should have to travel that far to reach an accessible entrance.  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.

– Steve Patterson

Pedestrian Improvements At Utah Place & Gustine Ave

I recently noticed some pedestrian improvements at Utah Place & Gustine Ave.  To note the changes we need to look at a similar intersection, Utah Place & Spring Ave:

utahspring
ABOVE: Utah Pl & Spring, pedestrians are exposed when crossing Utah Pl
utahgustine
ABOVE: Utah Pl & Spring, pedestrians now have a refuge when crossing Utah Pl
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ABOVE: Looking north across Utah Pl
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ABOVE: Looking west across Gustine Ave, note the detectable warnings point in the direction a blind person should walk
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ABOVE: SE corner of Gustine & Utah with ramps/detectable warnings pointing in the right direction.

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.  These new improvements are a step in the right direction, but not without flaws.

- Steve Patterson

Readers Not Positive About Proposed Solutions For Connecting The City To The Arch

mvvawaterfront

Last week readers voted on their thoughts on the winning proposal in the City+Arch+River competition. While the top individual answer shows support (with changes) the overall sentiment is negative:

Q: Now that you’ve had a chance to review the MVVA proposal (for City+Arch+River), what do you think?

  1. With a few changes it will work 41 [29.5%]
  2. Few elements aren’t bad but otherwise not impressed 39 [28.06%]
  3. Very disappointed, my least favorite 24 [17.27%]
  4. Doesn’t matter, very little will get built. 18 [12.95%]
  5. Very excited, best of the five finalists 7 [5.04%]
  6. Other answer… 4 [2.88%]
  7. Don’t like or dislike it 3 [2.16%]
  8. Unsure/no opinion 3 [2.16%]

The other responses were:

  1. the arch is decaying, fix that first!
  2. Will this really make the riverfront more vibrant and connected to the city?
  3. Disappointed, this is the doable design, not the inspired vision design.
  4. The only do-able option

Hopefully in five years we will be impressed by the final outcome.  Here is the MVVA video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArNdigN48Kg

– Steve Patterson

Reaching Forest Park A Challenge For Pedestrians Near SW Corner

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ABOVE: Forest Park (upper right) is walking distance to many. The center is Clayton & Skinker. Image: Google Maps (click to view)

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.  This post is about trying to safely reach Forest Park via Skinker & Clayton Ave.

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ABOVE: Aerial of Clayton & Skinker (vertical) showing no crosswalks across either road into Forest Park, hard to reach bus stop.

If you look the image above, with the top intersection being Clayton & Skinker, you can see crosswalks don’t cross either into Forest Park.

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ABOVE: No crosswalk or pedestrian signal looking east across Skinker from the NW corner at Clayton
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ABOVe: From the same corner looking south, a crosswalk & pedestrian signal are provided
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ABOVE: looking west from the SW corner of Forest Park
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ABOVE: rotating to the right (north) you see there is no sidewalk along Skinker to reach the bus stopÂ

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ABOVE: Once on the corner of Forest Park you see the jogging trail
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ABOVE: looking south from the corner of Forest Park, no crosswalk or signal

ABOVE: looking north toward Forest Park new concrete where a crosswalk should be
ABOVE: looking north toward Forest Park new concrete where a crosswalk should be

Pedestrians (able-bodied & disabled) need to reach Forest Park.

– Steve Patterson

Poll: Thoughts On Sunken Public Spaces?

The poll this week seeks to find out how you feel about sunken public spaces.

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I have some views but I’m going to save those for after the poll in finished.

– Steve Patterson

Walkability Around The Maplewood MetroLink Station

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ABOVE:worn path where a sidewalk should be, west of the Maplewood MetroLink station on Manchester Rd.

The “Cross County” MetroLink extension opened in August 2006.  In that time many would expect new development and increased walkability around the new stations but we had no plan beyond the line.  I’d plan for and require dense development and walkability over time.  But  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.

maplewoodmetrolink
ABOVE: Aerial view of the Maplewood MetroLink station along Manchester Rd, just east of Hanley. Image: Google Maps

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.

– Steve Patterson

Reaching The Galleria Not Easy For Pedestrians

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.  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.  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.

galleriaaccessroute
ABOVE: Blue is accessible route from MetroLink, red is the direct route

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.

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ABOVE: Pedestrians have worn a path in the grass getting to/from the Galleria
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ABOVE: less direct but staying on a sidewalk seems safer
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ABOVE: sidewalk leads to curbs and crosswalk leads to shrubs & cars, not an entrance

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.

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ABOVE: At Brentwood & Clayton able-bodied pedestrians can walk down the stairs to the parking lot. You see the entrance, don’t you?
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ABOVE: west along Clayton I then encountered an exit from an underground service garage, the sidewalk picks up on the other side
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Above: look, a sidewalk heading toward the mall
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ABOVE: and a properly marked & signed crosswalk
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ABOVE: There is the entrance, straight ahead!
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ABOVE: Four of the five entrances have automatic sliding doors but the one entrance with a direct path for pedestrians does not

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.  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.  Nor would they walk through the parking lot from the public sidewalk along Brentwood.  The Galleria at Clayton & Brentwood could have easily been designed with pedestrian routes to five entrances.  Very little effort, very little cost — but lasting benefits.

– Steve Patterson

Door Openers Added At Culinaria

In August 2010. a year after opening, door openers have been added to the two front doors at Culinaria downtown.

img_0003These went up just days after I posted about the absence of them.  These were already in the works so my post had nothing to do with them being installed.  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.

– Steve Patterson

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