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Gateway Arch Not ADA-Compliant, But I Made It To The Top Anyway

When you are dating someone who tells you he has never been to the top of the Arch, you make plans to take him to the top. Easy enough, except when you are disabled.  Saarinen’s Gateway Arch was conceived long before the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990 was signed into law by George H.W. Bush, back in a time when many physically disabled people were institutionalized.

The National Park Service website alerts visitors to the fact the Arch isn’t wheelchair accessible.    Yet much of the design of the Arch does permit wheelchair use, although the slopes exceed those allowed by the ADA. Other areas have steps but railings are pretty good. It’d be impossible to make the full Arch experience ADA-compliant.

ABOVE: Slope down to the north below grade museum entrance.
ABOVE: Slope down to the north below grade museum entrance.
ABOVE: After walking down a flight of stairs you reach the loading area for the tram to the top. Disabled passengers are assigned to the first car to make it easier.
ABOVE: After walking down a flight of stairs you reach the loading area for the tram to the top. Disabled passengers are assigned to the first car to make it easier.
ABOVE: Visitors must step up into the tram cars. They put this step out to help me but we ended  up moving it out of the way.
ABOVE: Visitors must step up into the tram cars. They put this step out to help me but we ended up moving it out of the way.
ABOVE: The most difficult part was walking on the curved floor at the top.
ABOVE: The most difficult part was walking on the curved floor at the top.
ABOVE: I did make it to the center, here with Dave (right)
ABOVE: I did make it to the center, here with Dave (right)
ABOVE: Looking east at Illinois
ABOVE: Looking east at Illinois
ABOVE: Looking northwest toward downtown
ABOVE: Looking northwest toward downtown

Thanks to Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Superintendent Tom Bradley and his staff for answering my questions beforehand. Depending on someone’s ability to navigate steps and walk on a curved floor they can reach the top.

— Steve Patterson

 

Bike Parking At Skinker MetroLink Station

Where you see bicycles locked to handrails on an ADA ramp that’s a good indictor of a need for convenient bike parking.

ABOVE: Bicycles secured to the handrail of the Skinker MetroLink ramp on the Washington University campus
ABOVE: Bicycles secured to the handrail of the Skinker MetroLink ramp on the Washington University campus

The night I took the above image a young man on the same train I was on unlocked his bike from the same rail and rode off away from the Washington University campus. Three bikes were locked here on a random Thursday evening (11/29).

This MetroLink station may have bike parking somewhere but I’ve seen bikes here before. We’ve got to do a better job at designing public space for the actual users.

— Steve Patterson

Crossing Kingshighway

In June I did a post about being unable to active a pedestrian signal at Kingshighway & Devonshire (see Pedestrian Signal Activation Button Beyond Reach).  That button got relocated after I pointed out the absurd location. Last week I used the next crossing to the north, at  Kingshighway & Sutherland.  Yes, you guessed it, another pedestrian button not reachable from the sidewalk.

ABOVE: Why bother putting a button at all if it can't be reached?
ABOVE: Why bother putting a button at all if it can’t be reached?
ABvOVE: A woman waited on the other side of Kingshighway also waiting for the walk signal to come on.
ABvOVE: A woman waited on the other side of Kingshighway also waiting for the walk signal to come on.

I eventually wheeled into the grass to press the button because it didn’t seem like it would change without doing so. Even after pressing the button it took many minutes to give the  ok to cross the street.

A week earlier I spotted another problem button from the #11 (Chippewa) MetroBus.

ABOVE: The 2nd button to cross Chippewa is located in an impossible to reach location.
ABOVE: The 2nd button to cross Chippewa is located in an impossible to reach location.

The Chippewa button I emailed in to the Streets Dept while I was still on the bus. I’m notifying the city of the problem at Sutherland via this post. To be fair, many intersections are great for pedestrians.But we tend not to remember that which works like it should, we remember those that give us fits.

Eventually I hope to gather volunteers and do a pedestrian audit of an area — signals, crosswalks, ramps, etc.  In the meantime I’ll catch them one at a time as I go about my daily life in various parts of St. Louis.

— Steve Patterson

Mercedes Drivers: Stop At The Stop Line, Yield To Pedestrians In Crosswalk

I often think drivers need to be retested to understand basics of the road like you stop behind the stop line or yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. But retesting everyone would be a huge undertaking so based on two experiences at 11th & Washington Ave I say first retest drivers of silver Mercedes cars.

ABOVE: A NB motorist technically ran the light by stopping past the stop line. July 2012
ABOVE: A NB motorist technically ran the light by stopping past the stop line. July 22, 2012 @ 11:08am
ABOVE: He continued NB once he had a green light
ABOVE: He continued NB once he had a green light

As I crossed 11th I had to go around his car, the ADA ramps are located at the right edge of the crosswalk. I gave him a dirty look and rather than put his car in reverse and back up, he smiled, laughed and flipped me off when he got a green light.

Then last week and unbelievable situation, just as I was entering the crosswalk (with the appropriate crosswalk signal) a Mercedes stops in front of me blocking me from crossing 11th. The driver hadn’t seen me because she was looking to the west for a break in traffic so she could turn right onto Washington Ave.

ABOVE: Just as I enter the crosswalk this driver stops in front of me.
ABOVE: Just as I enter the crosswalk this driver stops in front of me. December 13th @ 7:07pm

I began speaking loudly and she looked around and noticed me. Startled she lowered her passenger window and asked if I hit her car. No, I replied but I’d like to cross the street while the walk signal is on. “Cause if you hit my car it’ll be the last time you do!” Seriously, a woman in a  Mercedes just threatened a disabled guy in a wheelchair!

ABOVE: She finally makes her right turn as she yells obscenities at me.
ABOVE: She finally makes her right turn as she yells obscenities at me.

I was furious both times but this last time I was threatened. I was going to call the police but two blocks closer to home I saw two police officers get in their patrol car. I pull up and explain what happened. I show them the pics and one cop says she knows who the woman is, they’ll pay her a visit.

That night I emailed Director of Streets, Todd Waelterman, asking the one spot be changed to a no right turn on red. He’s concerned about traffic flow, I’m concerned about crossing the street safely. In the meantime motorists, especially those of you that drive silver Mercedes: The stop line exists for a reason — you’re supposed to stop at that line or proceed to make a right turn on red when clear. Clear means no traffic but also no pedestrians trying to cross. Got it?

— Steve Patterson

Construction Closes Crosswalk At Tucker

I knew the day would come when I couldn’t cross Tucker Blvd. at Washington Ave., it happened Monday.

ABOVE: Looking east from Washington Ave & Tucker on 12/10/2012
ABOVE: Looking west from Washington Ave & Tucker on 12/10/2012

I’d prefer to use Locust to go from my loft east into the CBD but accessibility issues abound, including the sidewalk being blocked at NLEC (see Readers: Why Didn’t The Homeless Sleep Inside The Shelter Instead Of The Sidewalk?)

— Steve Patterson

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