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Three Blocks Of Washington Ave Diagonal Parking Now Back-In

The planning to reduce travel lanes from four to two on the three blocks of Washington Ave, from 18th to 21th, took place in 2007. The work was done in 2008. I was a paid consultant during the planning phase. At the time I lived in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood and drove a motor scooter. In late 2007 I moved downtown and a few months later I had a stroke.

During the planning phase we debated angled parking — front-in vs.  back-in. In 2007 I argued for front-in angled parking, which is how the street got striped. Since then the block West of Jefferson plus others toward Grand also reduced travel lanes with the addition of angled parking. But these blocks did back-in parking.

Front-in angled parking is much easier when it comes to parking your car but harder to see other motorists, motorcycles, or bicyclists when exiting the space. Last year we picked up friends at their loft at Washington Ave & Jefferson, I was driving and parked in a back-in space. I was nervous. but I did it first try. In hindsight I wish I’d argued for back-in parking initially.

Recently these blocks of Washington Ave were resurfaced and restriped — now with back-in parking.  Let’s take a look:

Looking West from 18th
Looking West from 18th — no parking zone at corner
While most do OK, clearly this person had trouble. Parking enforcement was writing a ticket as I took this pic.
While most do OK, clearly this person had trouble. Parking enforcement was writing a ticket as I took this pic.
The adjacent vehicle also didn't stay within the space
The adjacent vehicle also didn’t stay within the space

Out of 20+ cars only two weren’t within their respective spaces. Again, I wish I’d argued for this initially.  The planning was prior to my being disabled, but I lobbied hard for good pedestrian crossings and disabled parking.

New "Continental" crosswalk at 19th is highly visible. Click image for article on Continental crosswalks.
New “Continental” crosswalk at 19th is highly visible. Click image for article on Continental crosswalks.
Unfortunately the mid-block crosswalks next to disabled parking wasn't restriped.
Unfortunately the mid-block crosswalks next to disabled parking wasn’t restriped.

Two and a half hours later I returned to check out a few more things, the white Ford was in the same spot.

An orange boot was on the front wheel, the Kia had moved over one space and parked correctly. While I was in the area Parking Enforcement came by and removed the boot, the waiting owner then drove off. .
An orange boot was on the front wheel, the Kia had moved over one space and parked correctly. While I was in the area Parking Enforcement came by and removed the boot, the waiting owner then drove off. .

Like most aspects of driving, backing into a parking space just takes practice to master. Occasionally I back into our space in our parking garage, it does get easier. Some day I may drive over to Washington Ave to practice — this wasn’t on my driver’s test in 1983.

— Steve Patterson

 

Tucker & Chouteau: Pedestrian Button Far From Curb Ramp

Yesterday’s post was about the bike lanes on Chouteau that aren’t there…yet. While I was photographing the absence of bike lanes late last month I noticed something else as I crossed Chouteau at Tucker. The annoying pedestrian crosswalk buttons aren’t next to the curb ramp where they should be.

I'm at the ramp to cross Chouteau going South, the pedestrian button is on the back side of the silver pole! The visible button the side of the pole to cross Tucker heading East. 
I’m at the ramp to cross Chouteau going South, the pedestrian button is on the back side of the silver pole! The visible button the side of the pole to cross Tucker heading East.
Looking back North you can see the pole and the ramp at the corner.
Looking back North you can see the pole and the ramp at the corner.

Pedestrian buttons should be reachable from the ramp, not 20 feet away! Personally I don’t think pedestrians should have to seek out and press button to get a walk signal — they should be automatic.  Imagine driving and having to know just where to stop at a red light to give you a green light.

Pedestrian buttons are great for the sight-impaired. If done properly, once activated, it’ll verbally announce to the user when the walk sign is on and that it’s ok to cross. The rest of us shouldn’t have to press a button to get a walk signal.

Chouteau is maintained by MoDOT, I’ll alert them and the city about this.

— Steve Patterson

 

Changes Needed on South Broadway to Prevent More Pedestrian Deaths

For over a decade I’ve written about pedestrians, including pedestrian deaths. It’s difficult to visit the sites and write about how the area could be designed better, but nothing like the pain experienced by the families & friends who’ve lost a loved one. Most recent was Bapi Gupta:

Gupta’s mother, Genie Dee, and Georgie Busch, who lost her daughter, Amber Wood, in a hit-and-run accident in the same location in 2012, are hoping to bring change to the stretch of roadway.

The string of fatalities and near misses has many calling for slower traffic in the area.

“Why is it 35 miles an hour here? Why isn’t there a stop light up the street here, which they took down, by the way,” said Michael Chekoudjian, the driving force behind a change.org petition asking for changes to the area. (KMOV)

From the change.org petition:

With 3 fast lanes of traffic heading south, trying to beat the lights cars are exceeding the speed limit by 20 to 50 MPH. This is very Dangerous in an “Entertainment District” with as many as a 1000 people in the streets at times and as we know by the hit and run death of “Amber Wood” at the 700 block of Broadway in April of 2012 this is a very dangerous stretch of roadway. We the signers of this petition want Mayor Slay to put a stop to this speeding on this dangerous stretch of road in the name of “Amber Wood” NOW!

First let’s look at a couple of recent suggestions offered by family & friends:

Lower the posted speed limit: Motorists currently exceed the 35MPH speed limit, they’ll drive the same speed regardless of the posted limit. This is because people drive at what they perceive to be a safe speed based on the design of the road. If you want to lower the speed — you must change the design! More on the design later.

Traffic signal at previous intersection: The previous light at Cerre St was removed when a new ramp onto Eastbound I-64 made it a dead-end street. Putting a signal back doesn’t make sense. However, a flashing yellow signal overhead would be a good idea, changing to red if activated by a pedestrian wanting to cross Broadway.

There are things that should change, let’s take a look:

A lot of the traffic on Broadway gets on Westbound I-64 before getting to the commercial district where pedestrians have been struck & killed.
A lot of the traffic on Broadway gets on Westbound I-64 before getting to the commercial district where pedestrians have been struck & killed.
Approaching Cerre St from the North.
Approaching Cerre St from the North.
After many get on the highway the remaining traffic now has more room, so they can speed up. Looking South from from just South of Cerre St, three wide traffic lanes in one direction plus parking lanes on both sides. This is designed to move cars quickly, not a good design for the commercial district just beyond the elevated train tracks. The vehicles you see are a deep line stopped at Gratiot St.
After many get on the highway the remaining traffic now has more room, so they can speed up. Looking South from from just South of Cerre St, three wide traffic lanes in one direction plus parking lanes on both sides. This is designed to move cars quickly, not a good design for the commercial district just beyond the elevated train tracks. The vehicles you see are a deep line stopped at Gratiot St.
This is the pedestrian environment across the street from the Broadway Oyster Bar.
This is the pedestrian environment across the street from the Broadway Oyster Bar.
Looking East at Gratiot St we see the traffic light is green but the pedestrian signal is "don't walk" Broadway Oyster Bar is on the left. Also not the curb bulbs out into both Gratiot & Broadway.
Looking East at Gratiot St we see the traffic light is green but the pedestrian signal is “don’t walk” Broadway Oyster Bar is on the left. Also not the curb bulbs out into both Gratiot & Broadway.

I sat here for a few cycles to time the lights. For vehicles the light is green for about 38-40 seconds. However, the pedestrian signal is “walk” for just 4 seconds before it begins to flash! It flashes for 10-15 seconds before going to a solid don’t walk, but the traffic signal remains green. Having such a short walk time with a longer traffic time encourages pedestrians to go for it rather than wait on the longer Broadway signal.  The pedestrian signal timing needs to change immediately! Ok, let’s cross.

Looking North we see how the "curb bulb" encloses the end of the parking lane on the East side of Broadway, Why wasn't the curb on the West side bulbed out as well?
Looking North we see how the “curb bulb” encloses the end of the parking lane on the East side of Broadway, Why wasn’t the curb on the West side bulbed out as well?

Based on my visit, here are my suggestions:

Immediate solutions:

  • Change pedestrian signal timing at Gratiot.

Short-term solutions:

  • Reinstall traffic signal at Cerre St., on yellow flash, changing to red if activated by a pedestrian.
  • Restripe Broadway, narrowing the 3 drive lanes.
  • Add a solid white lane to separate the outside drive lanes from the adjacent parking lanes.
  • Change pedestrian signals to have a countdown timer.

Long-term solutions:

  • New streetscape, putting the road on a diet with curb bulbs at all corners. Include mid-block planters in the parking lanes.
  • Return 4th & Broadway to 2-way traffic.

More observation, at different times, is needed. But this area must change or we’ll see more pedestrians hit.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Car Hit Planters & Scaffolding Outside Condemned Parking Garage

Early Monday morning a car hit planters & scaffolding on the Tucker sidewalk, at Locust.

A car crashed into the side of a downtown building just before 1:00 Monday morning near Tucker Boulevard and Locust Street.  (KMOV)

KMOV’s report says after inspection the building was “deemed safe.” More accurately, the car didn’t damage the building, but it was condemned months ago.

Garage at Tucker & Locust, December 2014. The two planters hit Monday can be seen between the cars
Garage at Tucker & Locust, December 2014. The two planters hit Monday can be seen between the cars
Just before 7am, a worker looks at the damage to the scaffolding.The two planters now shoved back against the previously condemned building
Just before 7am, a worker looks at the damage to the scaffolding.The two planters now shoved back against the previously condemned building

This scaffolding has now been in place for more than a year. All the work had been inside, but that stopped months ago.

Prior posts:

On July 1, 2014 just before the scaffolding went up along the Locust side
On July 1, 2014 just before the scaffolding went up along the Locust side
December 2014
December 2014

The scaffolding was in place to prevent debris from falling to the public sidewalk below. With work stopped, I have to wonder how long it’ll remain in place? Is there a point where the city will force the owner &/or contractor to remove it from the pubic right-of-way?

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Arch Visitors Walk Where Sidewalk Used To Be, Should Be Again

Currently there’s only one way in/out of the Arch grounds — via Walnut Street over I-44 (formerly I-70).  While the new lid at the center is being completed, everyone is routed via the new bridge over the interstate, on the North side of Walnut Street. However, at some point, St. Louis removed the sidewalk on the North side of Walnut St, between Memorial (3rd St) and 4th.

Pedestrians crossing back downtown are directed to not walk straight ahead, to go to the South side of Walnut (left)  or go one block North to Market (right)
Pedestrians crossing back downtown are directed to not walk straight ahead, to go to the South side of Walnut (left) or go one block North to Market (right)
The South side of Gateway Tower, KMOV's truck parks where the public sidewalk should be
The South side of Gateway Tower, KMOV’s truck parks where the public sidewalk should be
Where the sidewalk used to be next to the former American Zinc building, is  angled parking
Where the sidewalk used to be next to the former American Zinc building, is angled parking. Click image to view the National Register nomination of this building
Looking East from 4th the same barricades indicate pedestrians shouldn't walk in a straight line
Looking East from 4th the same barricades indicate pedestrians shouldn’t walk in a straight line
Crowds of people walking West into downtown
Crowds of people walking West into downtown on a Thursday afternoon

Looking at the 1997 National Register nomination of the American Zinc building, the sidewalk was in place. Most likely the sidewalk was removed when Drury Inn combined it with two other buildings, see Drury steps up plans for hotel at Fur Exchange site.

Looking at GEO St. Louis it appears this remains part of the public right-of-way (PROW), not vacated to private interests. The PROW was reallocated to give pedestrian space to automobiles. At the time the Cardinals played in Busch Stadium II and Walnut Street was a major point of vehicular egress after games.

I think we need to examine the Walnut PROW to see if the amount for vehicle travel can be reduced by one lane so that a sidewalk can be replaced. Remember, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to connect the Arch ground to downtown. The lack of a sidewalk connecting to the South highway crossing point is a huge disconnect.

People know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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