Home » Walkability » Recent Articles:

Local Example of Light Rail in Center of Street

For a while now I’ve been trying to convey how disastrous light rail in the center of Natural Bridge & Jefferson would be. I kept trying to think of a local example, but then the 2006 light rail extension in the center of Forest Park Parkway in Clayton came to mind.

Southbound traffic on S. Meramec in Clayton see a wall and right turn only signs at Forest Park Parkway
Southbound traffic on S. Meramec in Clayton see a wall and right turn only signs at Forest Park Parkway. Click to view in Google Street View
To achieve higher speeds,places to cross would be reduced through the use of concrete walls.
To achieve higher speeds,places to cross would be reduced through the use of concrete walls.

Such walls preventing pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists and crossing the street except at a few points would be horrible for the surrounding neighborhoods. Do as I did — go to the interception of Meramec & Forest Park Parkway and see if you think that would be good for Natural Bridge or Jefferson.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

St. Louis Fails At Crosswalks, Part 2

Monday, in Part 1, I explained why St. Louis officials shouldn’t be shocked their colorful art crosswalks don’t meet federal guidelines. They’re less visible than the classic bright white “continental” crosswalk.

Decorative crosswalk crossing Manchester at Sarah was installed in 2015
Decorative crosswalk crossing Manchester at Sarah was installed in 2015
From 2011: A freshly painted "continental" crosswalk at 17th & Olive
From 2011: A freshly painted “continental” crosswalk at 17th & Olive

From the Federal Highway Administration (FHA):

8.5 Crosswalks
Crosswalks are a critical part of the pedestrian network. A crosswalk is defined as “the portion of a roadway designated for pedestrians to use in crossing the street” (Institute of Transportation Engineers, 1998). Crosswalks are implied at all intersections whether or not they are marked. Midblock crossings include all marked crosswalks that do not occur at intersections. Midblock crossings are only created if a marked crosswalk is provided. The agency responsible for the roadway must ensure that all marked and unmarked crosswalks and midblock crossings are optimized for the safety and accessibility of all pedestrians.

8.5.1 Crosswalk markings
Crosswalk markings, if provided, are used to define the pedestrian path of travel across the roadway and alert drivers to the crosswalk location. Marked crosswalks should be designed in accordance with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Although the MUTCD provides options for crosswalk markings, the continental design is recommended because research indicates that it is the most visible to drivers (Knoblauch et al., 1988). The ladder design is created with white longitudinal lines at a 90 degree angle to the line of the crosswalk. The lines should be approximately 305 mm to 610 mm (12 in to 24 in) wide and spaced 305 mm to 610 mm (12 in to 24 in) apart (USDOT, 1988). The continental design can also be installed so that the primary paths for vehicular tires are between the crosswalk markings, which helps to reduce wear and maintenance. Use of the continental design for crosswalk markings also improves crosswalk detection for people with low vision and cognitive impairments. It is recommended that the continental design be used consistently to mark all crosswalks; otherwise the impact of less visible markings may be weakened by comparison.

They make it very clear that “continental” crosswalk markings are preferred. The design is such that, if properly done, allows vehicle tires to roll over the non-painted areas — thus reducing wear on the paint.  The last sentence above is worth repeating:

“It is recommended that the continental design be used consistently to mark all crosswalks;
otherwise the impact of less visible markings may be weakened by comparison.”

Crosswalk markings downtown are anything but consistent, the continental marking is rare.

From the National Association of City Transportation Officials:

While pedestrians generally have the right to cross at any intersection regardless of crosswalks, designers should be sensitive to the misperception that a crosswalk is the only legal place to cross the street. Use crosswalks as both a guide for pedestrians and a way to communicate crossings to motorists.

The practice of discouraging pedestrian crossings by leaving uncontrolled crossings unmarked is not a valid safety measure. Instead, it encourages unsafe, risk-taking behavior and discourages walking citywide. Efforts should be made to enhance or highlight desired crossings wherever practicable. Hybrid beacons, rapid flash beacons, raised crossings, medians, and other safety counter-measures may be suitable and less expensive than full signalization. These should all be considered before leaving an uncontrolled crossing unmarked.

But we can’t afford to mark every possible crossing point — how do we determine when to mark and when to leave unmarked?

All legs of signalized intersections must have marked crosswalks unless pedestrians are prohibited from the roadway or section thereof, or if there is physically no pedestrian access on either corner and no likelihood that access can be provided. Pedestrians are unlikely to comply with a 3-stage crossing and may place themselves in a dangerous situation as a result.

Let’s look at 14th Street from Washington Ave to Olive Street to see how inconsistent St. Louis is with crosswalks:

Crossing 14th at Washington Ave the decorative brick crosswalk isn't as visible as the bright white continental design
Crossing 14th at Washington Ave the decorative brick crosswalk isn’t as visible as the bright white continental design
At St. Charles Street (glorified alley) there's no signal, no stop sign. There are two continental crosswalks
At St. Charles Street (glorified alley) there’s no signal, no stop sign. There are two continental crosswalks
The North side of Locust at 14th, a signalized intersection, has no crosswalk marking
The North side of Locust at 14th, a signalized intersection, has no crosswalk marking
The South side of Locust at 14th is the same -- n o crosswalk marking. Behind ,me is a school, the main library across 14th.
The South side of Locust at 14th is the same — n o crosswalk marking. Behind ,me is a school, the main library across 14th.
An aside -- the unmarked crosswalk leads to a non-compliant curb ramp that I pointed out prior to completion of the library.
An aside — the unmarked crosswalk leads to a non-compliant curb ramp that I pointed out prior to completion of the library.
Olive at 14th is the basic parallel white lines. Still more visible than the expensive decorative brick crosswalk at Washington Ave
Olive at 14th is the basic parallel white lines. Still more visible than the expensive decorative brick crosswalk at Washington Ave

I’d like to think St. Louis’ new bike/ped coordinator will be able to make a difference — but for so long pedestrians got half-ass infrastructure. Not sure one bureaucrat can change the culture.

— Steve Pattersin

 

 

St. Louis Fails At Crosswalks, Part 1

Last week crosswalks were in the local news — specifically colored decorative crosswalks. St. Louis’ new bike/pedestrian coordinator, engineer Jamie Wilson, found out these weren’t compliant with federal standards:

Wilson said it was a shock to St. Louis as well as cities all over the country who employed the colorful crosswalks for aesthetic purposes but also as a way to make them pop for drivers.

“That was the intention,” said Wilson.

But now they will have to return to the more common white lines. There are some variations, but nothing like the painted works of art common around the city.

Wilson says they have turned down any new plans for similar crosswalks and will not maintain the current ones. Instead, they will be replacing them as needed. (KMOV)

Regular readers know I post often about crosswalks. So it’s no surprise I took interest in this news item and wanted to learn more. The news report made it sound like the city received a letter from the DOT.MoDOT? US DOT? So I asked Wilson:

I heard about it during a nationally broadcasted pedestrian safety webinar in early November.  It was mentioned in the webinar and other cities participating immediately began inquiring as to the whereabouts of this memo and what it meant to everyone.  After that I got the memo and read it – then I notified others at the City.  Since that time we have not allowed any new designs to be reviewed/permitted that aren’t consistent with the FHWA approach. (Via email 1/28/2016)

From the MUTCD, click to view page: "The "Pedestrian Crosswalk" figure shows three styles of crosswalk markings shown at a roadway intersection. On the west side of the vertical roadway, a crosswalk is shown marked at the intersection with two parallel solid white lines. On the east side of the horizontal roadway, a crosswalk is shown marked at the intersection with solid white diagonal lines between two parallel solid white lines. On the east side of the vertical roadway, a series of closely spaced solid white lines are shown placed at the intersection parallel to the direction of travel. A note states that the spacing of the lines is selected to avoid the wheel path of vehicles."
From the MUTCD, click to view page:
“The “Pedestrian Crosswalk” figure shows three styles of crosswalk markings shown at a roadway intersection. On the west side of the vertical roadway, a crosswalk is shown marked at the intersection with two parallel solid white lines. On the east side of the horizontal roadway, a crosswalk is shown marked at the intersection with solid white diagonal lines between two parallel solid white lines. On the east side of the vertical roadway, a series of closely spaced solid white lines are shown placed at the intersection parallel to the direction of travel. A note states that the spacing of the lines is selected to avoid the wheel path of vehicles.”

The memo is an interpretation ruling by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD): Official Ruling 3(09)-24(I) – Application of Colored Pavement. From the very detailed ruling dated August 15, 2013:

The FHWA’s position has always been, and continues to be that subdued-colored aesthetic treatments between the legally marked transverse crosswalk lines are permissible provided that they are devoid of retroreflective properties and that they do not diminish the effectiveness of the legally required white transverse pavement markings used to establish the crosswalk. Examples of acceptable treatments include brick lattice patterns, paving bricks, paving stones, setts, cobbles, or other resources designed to simulate such paving. Acceptable colors for these materials would be red, rust, brown, burgundy, clay, tan or similar earth tone equivalents. All elements of pattern and color for these treatments are to be uniform, consistent, repetitive, and expected so as not to be a source of distraction. No element of the aesthetic interior treatment is to be random or unsystematic. No element of the aesthetic interior treatment can implement pictographs, symbols, multiple color arrangements, etc., or can otherwise attempt to communicate with any roadway user.

Patterns or colors that degrade the contrast of the white transverse pavement markings establishing the crosswalk are to be avoided. Attempts to intensify this contrast by increasing or thickening the width of the transverse pavement markings have been observed in the field. These attempts to increase contrast are perceived to be efforts to circumvent the contrast prerequisite so that an intentional noncompliant alternative of an aesthetic interior pattern or color can be used. Further techniques to install an empty buffer space between an aesthetic treatment and the interior edge of the white transverse crosswalk markings have also been observed in the field. This strategy is also perceived to be an attempt to circumvent FHWA’s prior position on contrast. However, an empty buffer space between a subdued-colored, uniform-patterned aesthetic treatment can be implemented to enhance contrast between the aesthetic treatment and the white transverse pavement markings. When used properly, buffer spaces can be an effective tool to disseminate a necessary contrast in order to visually enhance an otherwise difficult to discern white transverse crosswalk marking, provided that the aesthetic treatment conforms to the conditions in the preceding paragraph.

So we found out over two years after the fact! In researching I found a similar interpretation letter from May 2011.   What are the guidelines being interpreted? From the 2003 manual:

Crosswalk markings provide guidance for pedestrians who are crossing roadways by defining and delineating paths on approaches to and within signalized intersections, and on approaches to other intersections where traffic stops.

Crosswalk markings also serve to alert road users of a pedestrian crossing point across roadways not controlled by highway traffic signals or STOP signs.

At nonintersection locations, crosswalk markings legally establish the crosswalk.

[snip]

For added visibility, the area of the crosswalk may be marked with white diagonal lines at a 45-degree angle to the line of the crosswalk or with white longitudinal lines parallel to traffic flow. When diagonal or longitudinal lines are used to mark a crosswalk, the transverse crosswalk lines may be omitted.

You can see the full section here. It clearly states the two options for added visibility.  Two. See the graphic, at right. The current edition is the 2009 MUTCD with revisions 1 & 2, May 2012 — this language is nearly identical to the 2003 language.

How anyone got that is was ok to do decorative/colored patterns from the 2003/2009 guides is beyond me. But a dozen years after the 2003 MUTCD is published, four+ years after one interpretation, the city is “shocked.”

I’m not shocked at all — the city comes at pedestrian infrastructure from a motorist’s viewpoint.  Pedestrian experts have long-known crosswalk markings help guide pedestrians — especially those with limited vision. High contrast (white on black) is the key to ensure low vision pedestrians know where to cross the street. This same high contrast helps motorists see a crosswalk ahead.

Let’s take a look at some crosswalks.

From 2011: A freshly painted crosswalk at 17th & Olive This design is the most visible for everyone. Cities trying to make areas more pedestrian-friendly make sure all signalized intersections use this "continental" design,
From 2011: A freshly painted crosswalk at 17th & Olive This design is the most visible for everyone. Cities trying to make areas more pedestrian-friendly make sure all signalized intersections use this “continental” design,
At Washington & Tucker there isn't a compliant crosswalk marking. Not everyone can distinguish the brick pavers. Someone walking on the far left of the pavers is in the right traffic lane of Washington Ave and would likely get hit.
At Washington & Tucker there isn’t a compliant crosswalk marking. Not everyone can distinguish the brick pavers. Someone walking on the far left of the pavers is in the right traffic lane of Washington Ave and would likely get hit.
Crosswalk at the entrance to the Missouri Botanical Gardens uses mostly white with green fill. Because of the white, it's very visible
Crosswalk at the entrance to the Missouri Botanical Gardens uses mostly white with green fill. Because of the white, it’s very visible
Color blindness simulation: People with protanopia lack the long-wavelength sensitive retinal cones that are required to distinguish between colors in the green-yellow-red section of the spectrum. Click image to see simulator website
Color blindness simulation: People with protanopia lack the long-wavelength sensitive retinal cones that are required to distinguish between colors in the green-yellow-red section of the spectrum. Click image to see simulator website
Color blindness simulation: People with dueteranopia lack medium-wavelength retinal cones and are therefore also unable to distinguish between colors in the green-yellow-red section of the spectrum.
Color blindness simulation: People with dueteranopia lack medium-wavelength retinal cones and are therefore also unable to distinguish between colors in the green-yellow-red section of the spectrum.
Rainbow crosswalk crossing Manchester at Sarah was installed in 2015
Rainbow crosswalk crossing Manchester at Sarah was installed in 2015
Protanopia colorblindness simulation
Protanopia colorblindness simulation
Dueteranopia colorblindness simulation looks nearly identical, it's the white that pops
Dueteranopia colorblindness simulation looks nearly identical, it’s the white that pops

Colorblindness is easy to simulate online, but the numerous types of vision loss are not. The following video demonstrates.

  • Macular Degeneration
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma/Retinitis Pigmentosa
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Hemianopsia (caused by stroke, tumor, or trauma)

For a few years now I’ve had early cataracts, not yet bad enough for corrective surgery.

If the goal is visibility crosswalks should use white — the “continental” design. Public art is great — just not in crosswalks. More on crosswalk on Thursday.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

St. Louis Doesn’t Care About Pedestrians, Recycling Bins Still Blocking Sidewalk

Over two years ago I posted about recycling dumpsters blocking a public sidewalk on the West side of Target, At the time Clifton Ave was being resurfaced so I wasn’t sure if they were on the sidewalk temporarily.

The six recycling bins, oriented to the street, viewed from across Clifton Ave
September 2013: The six recycling bins, oriented to the street, viewed from across Clifton Ave

In the time since I’ve noticed them still on the sidewalk, but I was passing by on Chippewa and couldn’t get a picture. Yesterday, Target had the Chippewa entrance to the lower level parking closed, so we turned onto Clifton Ave. — so I stopped the car to get a pic.

December 27, 2015. Click image to view in Google's Street View
December 27, 2015. Click image to view in Google’s Street View

Recycling is important, but so are pedestrians!  All pedestrians should be able to go from Chippewa to Bancroft — that’s why the sidewalk exists.

Here’s what needs to happen:

  1. Move the bins into the street, OR
  2. Add more sidewalk behind the bins, OR.
  3. Relocate the bins elsewhere

I’d love to know who made the decision to block the public sidewalk.

— Steve Patterson

 

Lemay Ferry (MO-267) Is A Pedestrian Nightmare

Yesterday I posted about the horrible pedestrian environment along the #12 MetroBus route in St. Clair County. I took that bus on Wednesday the 16th. That night, Fox2 ran a related story (Disabled man hit 3 times on Lemay Ferry, due to lack of sidewalks):

Tony Berding says he’s been hit 3 times by vehicles on Lemay Ferry.  Berding is disabled, and lives in a senior apartment complex in the 3600 block Lemay Ferry Road in South St. Louis County.  He uses a motorized wheelchair to travel to a nearby Quick Trip and Kmart.

Berding was struck last Thursday while traveling on a narrow shoulder along northbound Lemay Ferry.

That evening a reader messaged me about the story, but I didn’t have time to watch. The next morning I got a message from Berding’s sister, so I watched — horrified watching her brother use the narrow shoulder to get to the store. We messaged via Facebook, then text, and finally on the phone. This is about real people at risk because of how we have chosen to build our physical environment.

Lemay Ferry in South St. Louis County is far more urban than the area I traveled through in St. Clair County, I’ve taken the #73 MetroBus numerous times, most recently the morning of August 25, 2015:

A passenger got on at the SB stop across from Dierbergs
A passenger got on at the SB stop across from Dierbergs
I took a pic of a vintage convertible in front of the QT mentioned in the Fox2 story
I took a pic of a vintage convertible in front of the QT mentioned in the Fox2 story
I got off past Lindbergh, I met my husband for lunch at IHOP
I got off past Lindbergh, I met my husband for lunch at IHOP

What I hadn’t done is roll along the part of Lemay Ferry mention in the Fox2 story. After looking at it on Google Street View I saw just how physically impossible the West side of Lemay Ferry was, the East side isn’t great — but it’s passable. I decided I’d have to drive to photograph. Before doing so I did some research.

Fox2 said St. Louis County indicated they couldn’t afford to buy land for the right-of-way to build a sidewalk on the East side. Two problems here: Lemay Ferry is also known as MO-267 — it’s maintained by MoDOT, not the county.  Secondly, the right-of-way is 80 feet wide — more than enough width for four travel lanes, a center turn lane, and sidewalks on each side! More on this later, let’s take a look at the problem.

Not far into the County there are good sidewalks, but no pads for accessing the bus or routes to buildings set back behind parking.
Not far into the County there are good sidewalks, but no pads for accessing the bus or routes to buildings set back behind parking.
There are spots on both sides where there is no pretense of a sidewalk, such as this cemetery stop
There are spots on both sides where there is no pretense of a sidewalk, such as this cemetery stop
Even spots where sidewalks exist they don't always connect to buds stops/ The curb here makes this inaccessible.
Even spots where sidewalks exist they don’t always connect to buds stops/ The curb here makes this inaccessible.
Here's a spot where a wheelchair user has no choice but to use the shoulder. What about an able-bodied parent walking with a small child or pushing a stroller?
Here’s a spot where a wheelchair user has no choice but to use the shoulder. What about an able-bodied parent walking with a small child or pushing a stroller?
Just before Reevis Barracks the sidewalk & bus stop are excellent
Just before Reevis Barracks the sidewalk & bus stop are excellent
I was delighted to see a good connection to the adjacent bank!
I was delighted to see a good connection to the adjacent bank!
But pulling back out to Lemay Ferry I noticed the curb to the North
But pulling back out to Lemay Ferry I noticed the curb to the North
Many spots where you see a sidewalk on the West side they're located on private property, don't connect to adjacent property -- the drive where the car is exiting has a curb.
Many spots where you see a sidewalk on the West side they’re located on private property, don’t connect to adjacent property — the drive where the car is exiting has a curb.
Looking South we have the same situation. A private sidewalk not usable by those who need it. Decoration adding to water runoff issues.
Looking South we have the same situation. A private sidewalk not usable by those who need it. Decoration adding to water runoff issues.
We stopped to fill up the tank at the QT mentioned in the Fox2 story. For many convenience stores are their primary grocery store.
We stopped to fill up the tank at the QT mentioned in the Fox2 story. For many convenience stores are their primary grocery store.
Looking back North you can see what appears to be a sidewalk -- but it isn't accessible. It is, however, located in the PROW.
Looking back North you can see what appears to be a sidewalk — but it isn’t accessible. It is, however, located in the PROW.
How does a pedestrian get to the QT from the sidewalk? Up these steps from the side street!
How does a pedestrian get to the QT from the sidewalk? Up these steps from the side street!
From the next property to the South we see how the shoulder is the only option for anyone in a wheelchair.
From the next property to the South we see how the shoulder is the only option for anyone in a wheelchair.
A little further South we see a bus stop sign on a curbed island -- located in the PROW.
A little further South we see a bus stop sign on a curbed island — located in the PROW.
Looking South toward the apartments where Tony Berding has lived since 2001
Looking South toward the apartments where Tony Berding has lived since 2001
From the entrance drive looking back North. The QT is less than a 10th of a mile. Click image for map
From the entrance drive looking back North. The QT is less than a 10th of a mile. Click image for map
The Kmart is to the South
The Kmart is to the South
Pretty much the same thing heading South to Kmart. Curb after curb...
Pretty much the same thing heading South to Kmart. Curb after curb…
At the Kmart parking lot you see the only way in is the auto driveway
At the Kmart parking lot you see the only way in is the auto driveway

So why not just move? When you’re disabled and low-income housing options are very limited.  It has been 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law — St. Louis County & the Missouri Dept of Transportation need to prioritize this.

Below are two examples of dividing the existing 80′ right-of-way so still have four drives lanes & a center turn lane.

Two scenarios for the 80' right-of-way. The top version has the overly wide lanes currently in use and the lower has better 10' wide lanes. The ROW is wide enough! Click image to view larger version.
Two scenarios for the 80′ right-of-way. The top version has the overly wide lanes currently in use and the lower has better 10′ wide lanes. The ROW is wide enough! Click image to view larger version.

My guess is decades ago Lemay Ferry was a 2-lane road that got widened after people & businesses began moving to south county from south city. It went from a rural 2-lane to a 4-lane with center turn without any consideration for pedestrians. The 80′ right-of-way might have been in anticipation on more lanes of traffic — the land was subdivided before I-55 was even a dream.But MO-267, aka Lemay Ferry, is used by pedestrians. People use transit. Not all residents own cars.

It hasn’t kept up, but it needs to change.    Before someone gets killed!

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



[custom-facebook-feed]

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe