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One Spot On Sidewalk A Challenge, Who’s Responsible?

I’ve used many sidewalks throughout St. Louis, most are adequate. It just takes one bad point though to made a decent sidewalk barely adequate. That happened to me on Saturday going from Kingshighway to Grand for yesterday’s post. The entire length, over 1.5 miles, was good until I was almost at Grand.

The worn grass shows many pedestrians avoid the obstacle in this sidewalk along the south side of Forest Park Ave, just west of Grand.
The worn grass shows many pedestrians avoid the obstacle in this sidewalk along the south side of Forest Park Ave, just west of Grand.
Close up view shows the significant height
Close up view shows the significant height

I see these often, I think they’re lids for vaults. Everyone I’ve encountered are raised above the adjacent sidewalk.  Who’s responsible? The City? MSD (Metropolitan Sewer District)? The adjacent property owner, Saint Louis University? I haven’t a clue, but I’ll email this post to a few people and find out.

— Steve Patterson

 

Pedestrian Activation Buttons Almost Consistent

Most signalized intersections in St. Louis don’t require pedestrians to push buttons to get a “walk” sign, but this is changing as sidewalks & signals are updated.  The biggest challenge is hunting for the right button to press. Take 14th & Olive, for example.

The NW corner
The NW corner has both buttons on the same poll, top for Olive, lower for 14th
The NE corner has both buttons on the same poll, one for 14th, one for Olive
The NE corner also has both buttons on the same poll, top for Olive, lower for 14th
The SE corner
Like the others, the SE corner has both buttons on the same poll, top for Olive, lower for 14th
The SW corner, however, is totally different
The SW corner, however, is totally different from the other 3 corners. The button on the left is next to the ramp to cross Olive, but it is for 14th.  The button at right is closest to the ramp to cross 14th, but controls Olive. What were they thinking?

On the SW corner I’m not sure why both buttons aren’t on the same poll, with the top one for Olive, the one already controls the 14th signal. Typically when the buttons are separated from each other the one nearest a ramp controls that signal.

Every time I go through this intersection I forget and have to circle around to hit the right button. I’m not sure if this can easily be rectified, but I’ll find out.

— Steve Patterson

 

Complaints About Our Pedestrians

I’ve done my fare share of complaining about motorists — blocking crosswalks, nearly hitting me making right turns, parking on sidewalks, etc. Today I want to talk about bad behavior among pedestrians.

First thing I should get out of the way, I’ve been known to exhibit bad pedestrian behavior. Specifically, I can think of one time crossing Tucker, I didn’t wait for the pedestrian signal. I started across because I knew the pattern of the lights. What I momentarily forgot was cars can legally make a right turn on red. They had the right of way but I cut them off by crossing when I did.

Pedestrians crossing Tucker against traffic
Pedestrians crossing Tucker against traffic

So what are some of my complaints?

  1. People walking 2-3 abreast, expecting others to step aside so they don’t have to walk single file. We have very few sidewalks downtown where pedestrians can walk 2-3 abreast while meeting others going the opposite direction. So sorry folks, I’m not going to stop and wait behind a planter or trash can so your trio can remain intact.
  2. People come out of stores clueless that anyone else is using the sidewalk.
  3. People in front of me walking slowly but not letting me pass them, especially when they’re smoking.

We’re not Manhattan, but it would still be nice to have our pedestrians be more aware of their surroundings. To be fair, I probably encounter many pedestrians who are tourists so they aren’t familiar with downtown, they may not even be used to walking in a downtown context with crowded sidewalks.

— Steve Patterson

 

Elevated Highway Will Continue To Divide Downtown From The Mississippi River

The CityArchRiver 2015 effort has been about connecting the city to the Arch and to the river. But I think the name needs an asterisks, followed by a legal disclaimer in fine printer.

Plans call for altering the vehicular & pedestrian flow under the elevated highway at the NW corner of the Arch grounds. but it'll remain a divider.
Plans call for altering the vehicular & pedestrian flow under the elevated highway at the NW corner of the Arch grounds. but it’ll remain a divider.

The disclaimer would read something like this:

*The connection will be applicable for a block or two at the center of the Arch grounds, the north & south portions will remain disconnected. We’ll make a few token changes, nothing significant. 

I agree there isn’t time now to raze the elevated highway and complete an urban boulevard before October 28, 2015, but I’d like to see us work on starting shortly after the 50th anniversary of the last piece of the Arch. If we start now we can have the urban boulevard by the 75th anniversary on October 28, 2040.

Only after this is removed will downtown be reconnected to the Mississippi River in a meaningful way.

— Steve Patterson

 

Central Library After Hours Book Return For Motorists, Not Pedestrians

Our library system is wonderful, I feel fortunate to live just two blocks from the magnificent Central Library, which recently had a $70 million dollar renovation. Returning a few items the other day when the library wasn’t open I realized the renovation included a new return box.

There I am on the sidewalk in my wheelchair looking for the slot to slide the items in.

East side of the after hours book return at the Central Library
East side of the after hours book return at the Central Library
The return slots are only accessible from Locust, not the sidewalk
The return slots are only accessible from Locust Street, not the sidewalk

I had previously assumed the ramp you see behind the library return box was for passenger loading/unloading, but perhaps it is so pedestrians could easily get into the street to return books & videos.

Most other libraries in St. Louis have easily accessed return boxes, not requiring competing with moving traffic. Here are a few examples:

Central Express 4 blocks east
Central Express 4 blocks east of Central
Baden
Baden, far north city
Kingshighway at Southwest
Kingshighway at Southwest
Buder, south Hampton
Buder, south Hampton

Does someone at the St. Louis Public Library think everyone downtown drives everywhere? Returning books a few blocks away means getting in the car? Another day I asked a librarian at the circulation desk who confirmed they only have the one return box.

It appears the new book return is accessed from below so librarians don’t need to go out with a cart to retrieve items, a wise choice given the volume at Central. Not providing a way for pedestrians to return items without having to enter the street is yet another example how everyone involved either 1) drives and didn’t consider the pedestrian viewpoint or 2) deliberately made a decision to make returns a challenge for pedestrians.

Neither is good.

— Steve Patterson

 

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