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Crosswalks Meet At One Curb Ramp, Rather Than Two

August 28, 2017 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Crosswalks Meet At One Curb Ramp, Rather Than Two

Recent work downtown has been mostly good for pedestrians, but Saturday night my husband and I found an awful corner: the NE corner of Market & Broadway.  This is the SW corner of the Old Courthouse. I;m not sure who gets the blame, the possible culprits are city streets dept, city board of public service (BPS), MoDOT, National Park Service, or Gateway Arch Park Foundation.

Most new work has gotten away from placing one curb ramp at the apex at the corner, instead doing a ramp/crosswalk to cross each street. This improves ADA-compliance and reduces inconveniences for all pedestrians.

We had to cross the ramp on the NE corner of Market & Broadway as we crossed Broadway. Both times the ramp was full of pedestrians waiting to cross Market. Both times I had to ask others to move.

Heading back to Kiener Plaza I snapped this photo of the crowd at the corner, two guys on the left are avoiding the crowd at the corner by walking in the street — not an option for those of us who use mobility devices.
In this crowed view you can see hoe the one crosswalk is angled to meet the sole curb ramp.

The idea is to get Arch visitors to start in Kiener Plaza, so this corner should see many pedestrians. It amazes me each crosswalk doesn’t lead to its own curb ramp.

No, I’m not amazed. I’ve experienced first hand how even brand new work ism’t designed by people who think like pedestrians.

— Steve Patterson

 

16th & Market Curb Ramp Slightly Less Shoddy Than It Was

July 31, 2017 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on 16th & Market Curb Ramp Slightly Less Shoddy Than It Was

Over a year ago I posted about one of the many poorly design/constructed curb ramps in this city, see Shoddy Curb Ramp/Crosswalk At 16th Street & Market St  from May 2016. Here are a couple of images from that post:

May 2016: The pained crosswalk was to left of the line, but most pf the ramp was to the right. Plus, the ramp violated the “no lips” rule. One corner of the tactile surface hangs over the curb!
May 2016; Looking West across 16th St at Market, note the location of the crosswalk relative to the detectable warning mat.

At some point in the last year I was told the city will be correcting this ramp. I’ve been through this intersection a lot over the last few months and hadn’t noticed a change — until the other day. While I was glad to see the city hadn’t forgotten about it, I was disappointed by what was done.

The old ramp was torn out and a new one poured. New asphalt fills in the gap that was removed to form the new ramp.
Another view. Like most ramps, this one is still too high so the asphalt helps make up for the error. Not ADA-compliant.
Looking West. Hopefully the crosswalk will be changed at some point, but the ramp still directs you into the intersection.

So the city has gone from an “F” to a “C-“. How much did this cost? What does it take for the city to do A or B work?

I know, I should just accept this city doesn’t care about pedestrian like it does motorists, crappy pedestrian infrastructure has been the norm for too long.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Crossing Hampton At Elizabeth

June 5, 2017 Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Crossing Hampton At Elizabeth

Four times per year I visit my doctor on South Hampton, 45-minutes each way via public transit to/from downtown. As a regular transit user and pedestrian I actually enjoy the time. What I don’t enjoy is crossing Hampton upon arrival.

The last five years I’ve taken MetroBus to my doctor — except maybe 2-3 times when my husband wasn’t using our car. So at least 15 times I’ve crossed Hampton at Elizabeth — West to East. The bus stop is in the 24th Ward, my doctor is in the 10th Ward.

Aerial image of intersection with bus stop in lower left corner — I cross SB lanes and then NB lanes to reach the lower right corner, click to view in Google Maps

Looking at older versions of Google’s Street View I know the pedestrian & traffic signals were added sometime between September 2007 and October 2009. The bus stop and curb ramps were all existing in September 2007.

View looking East across Hampton, the bus stop is to my right.
View looking back West across Hampton

Crosswalk and pedestrian signals, so what is there to complain about? Plenty.

The issue is the timing of pedestrian signals. First I need to cross the SB lanes of Hampton to the center median — not s problem — a walk is given when Elizabeth Ave traffic gets a green light. The walk signal might require pressing the activation button — I don’t remember. I reach the NB lanes og Hampton just as the pedestrian signal switches to don’t walk. While it would be nice to cross without having to wait I do realize the median is wide.

NB traffic gets a green light soon. After a while they get a red light. I should get a walk signal now that NB traffic has com to a stop, right?  No, that’s too logical. The NB traffic has been stopped because SB Hampton traffic has a left turn arrow. No traffic is crossing the crosswalk but the pedestrian signal on both directions of the NB Hampton lanes says “don’t walk.”No conflict at all — the city just didn’t think about the user or thought about it and didn’t care.

Weeks ago I mentioned the city’s bike/ped Twitter account while venting about this issue. The reply was

E-W peds conflict w N-S traffic…no time to cross if wired for xtra xing during SBL, safest to run w E-W traffic. Plenty of time to cross. 

Again, not enough time to cross all of Hampton at once. There must be a better solution, but I know the traffic engineer in charge of pedestrian infrastructure isn’t the person to figure it out.

It might take some new wires, but the pedestrian signals for NB should act independent of those for the SB lanes. If so, pedestrians wouldn’t get stuck in the median for a complete cycle of the traffic signals. This should have been the case when these were installed.

— Steve Patterson

 

Reading: Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All by Philip Langdon

April 24, 2017 Featured, Reading, Walkability Comments Off on Reading: Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All by Philip Langdon

Last week I received a new book that immediately caught my attention. Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All speaks to a core personal issue for me — walkability. Before the personal automobile displaced public transit, most everything in American cities was within walking distance. For nearly a century now Euclidean, AKA single-use, zoning has actively created places that are well beyond walking distance.

I’m not alone in seeking out walkable places:

For five thousand years, human settlements were nearly always compact places. Everything a person needed on a regular basis lay within walking distance. But then the great project of the twentieth century—sorting people, businesses, and activities into separate zones, scattered across vast metropolises—took hold, exacting its toll on human health, natural resources, and the climate. Living where things were beyond walking distance ultimately became, for many people, a recipe for frustration. As a result, many Americans have begun seeking compact, walkable communities or looking for ways to make their current neighborhood better connected, more self-sufficient, and more pleasurable.

In Within Walking Distance, journalist and urban critic Philip Langdon looks at why and how Americans are shifting toward a more human-scale way of building and living. He shows how people are creating, improving, and caring for walkable communities. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Starting conditions differ radically, as do the attitudes and interests of residents. To draw the most important lessons, Langdon spent time in six communities that differ in size, history, wealth, diversity, and education, yet share crucial traits: compactness, a mix of uses and activities, and human scale. The six are Center City Philadelphia; the East Rock section of New Haven, Connecticut; Brattleboro, Vermont; the Little Village section of Chicago; the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon; and the Cotton District in Starkville, Mississippi. In these communities, Langdon examines safe, comfortable streets; sociable sidewalks; how buildings connect to the public realm; bicycling; public transportation; and incorporation of nature and parks into city or town life. In all these varied settings, he pays special attention to a vital ingredient: local commitment.

To improve conditions and opportunities for everyone, Langdon argues that places where the best of life is within walking distance ought to be at the core of our thinking. This book is for anyone who wants to understand what can be done to build, rebuild, or improve a community while retaining the things that make it distinctive. (Island Press)

I’ve visited Portland’s Perl District and Philadelphia’s Center City, in July we’ll go to Chicago’s Little Village. Learning from other places is one of the smartest ways to get the inspiration to tackle neighborhoods that have great potential.

Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All by Philip Langdon, releasing next month, is available via Island Press, Left Bank Books, and Amazon.

— Steve Patterson

 

Safety Expert Killed Crossing 4th Street 15 Years Ago Today.

March 20, 2017 Downtown, Featured, Walkability Comments Off on Safety Expert Killed Crossing 4th Street 15 Years Ago Today.

I post often about the poor pedestrian conditions in downtown St. Louis — such as these from last year:

Fifteen years ago this morning a safety expert was killed while walking across 4th street.

ST. LOUIS — A Washington state woman who was one of the country’s top experts on bicycle and pedestrian safety was killed yesterday morning when she was struck by a tour bus while crossing a downtown intersection here.

Susie Stephens, 36, of Winthrop, Wash., was struck shortly after 8:30 a.m. 

The driver of the Vandalia Bus Lines vehicle told police he did not see Stephens as he made a left turn.

Stephens, a consultant, was in St. Louis to help stage a conference on innovative approaches to transportation sponsored by the Forest Service, said William “Bill” Wilkinson of the National Center for Bicycling and Walking in Washington.

Stevens was just a year older than me.

This intersection has been improved, the crosswalk length shortened. However, pedestrians don’t get an advance signal to give them a head start.

There have been numerous events remembering her since she was killed here, this one from 2015 is touching:

The 2015 Stihl Tour des Trees began in Orlando Oct. 25. From there the group cycled 103 miles to Ruskin. Then 70 miles to Sarasota and 93 miles to Punta Gorda. Wednesday morning the group left for the 70 mile ride to Matlacha Park where they planned to plant a Live Oak Tree.

“In the course of this tour we will plant 13 new trees,” DiCarlo said. “Today’s tree is dedicated to Susie Stevens and The Susie Forest. Sadly Susie Stevens was struck and killed by a bus crossing the street in St. Louis in 2002. Her mother, Nancy McCarrow, has been volunteering for many years with the Stihl Tour des Trees planting trees in remembrance of her daughter. We call this collection of trees ‘The Susie Forest’. (Source)

Hopefully the next mayor will take pedestrian experience & safety seriously.

— Steve Patterson

 

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