Home » Walkability » Recent Articles:

County Market Near Downtown Springfield IL Retrofits A Pedestrian Route

In March I posted about a new grocery store on the edge of downtown Springfield IL (map) that anticipated many customers on foot, but they expected these pedestrians to either use the automobile driveways or walk over curbs and through grass & lots of parking.  A few days after my post, Springfield Journal-Register columnist Dave Bakke wrote Some criticisms of Springfield justified mentioning my criticism, later Bakke followed up with Critique of Springfield’s image touches nerve.

Here's what customers leaving the entrance facing Carpenter see now.
Here’s what customers leaving the entrance facing Carpenter see now.
Back in March the New County Market near downtown Springfield didn't have a route for pedestrians to/from the public sidewalk.
Back in March the New County Market near downtown Springfield didn’t have a route for pedestrians to/from the public sidewalk. The only provision was to reach disabled parking.

From this angle the change isn’t significant, no paint on asphalt will keep a distracted driver from hitting a pedestrian.  But look out toward the street and you’ll see new concrete.

From the public sidewalk you can see the new route they added.
From the public sidewalk you can see the new route they added so pedestrians don’t have to compete with cars.

I appreciate the after the fact gesture, but this is a good example why pedestrian access, just like automobile access, must be planned from the beginning. The new concrete walk does not meet ADA guidelines, it is too steep in places. I didn’t have my digital level with me on our Mother’s Day trip, but I could tell by walking it.

This route shown above is a consolation prize for pedestrians, it connects to Carpenter St only, not to 2nd St. Even if they retrofitted a route to 2nd it still wouldn’t be considered pedestrian-friendly. As I pointed out in my original post, the County Market in Champaign-Urbana is the model that should’ve been built in Springfield. It was built on a corner with direct access from both sidewalks. It also has a parking lot behind the building, with another entrance. Same number of entrances as the Springfield location, just arranged so customers arriving on foot or car are equally accommodated.

From the mezzanine you can see the route able-bodied pedestrians will likely take, cutting across the parking lot at a diagonal.
From the mezzanine you can see the route able-bodied pedestrians will likely take, cutting across the parking lot at a diagonal.

Springfield, like St. Louis and most cities, should not allow parking between the public sidewalk and buildings in areas where they seek to be pedestrian-friendly. In all other areas where public sidewalks are present/required they should require developers to actually connect to them. Public sidewalks are not window dressing, people actually use them.

If motorists were treated like pedestrians, no parking lot would have a driveway connecting to the public street. You’d be forced to drive over multiple curbs and through grass. All cars could be able to enter & exit, but 4X4 vehicles would have an easier time. While people could use parkings lot this way, they’d soon realize it wasn’t friendly and is potentially  damaging their vehicle. Those with high-clearance SUVs wouldn’t understand why a person driving a vintage MG Midget would complain, besides how often do you see one of those on the road… Why build costly driveways for the few people who have low cars?

Municipal zoning & building codes in cities coast to coast go to great lengths to detail every aspect of our arrival at developments by car: driveways, width of aisles, parking space dimensions, number of spaces, etc. Few say a word about arrival on foot.

It is no wonder so few people walk given our built environment.

— Steve Patterson

 

Shrewsbury: MetroLink to City Hall

I love rail transit, but a problem with our MetroLink light rail system is getting from the stations to your destination. Last week I attended a meeting hosted by Trailnet at Shrewsbury City Hall, a mile from the station. I could’ve caught a bus that would’ve dropped me off at Murdoch & Shrewsbury Ave but I still would’ve had 4/10ths of a mile to reach city hall. It was decent out and my power chair had a full charge so I decided to “walk” the mile.

But first a little background information.

The Shrewsbury MetroLink station opened with the blue line extension on August 26, 2006.
The Shrewsbury MetroLink station opened with the blue line extension on August 26, 2006.
Click image to view video of the arrival of the first train pictured above.

The Shrewsbury MetroLink station is located in the City of St. Louis, but the Shrewsbury city limits is the western edge of the commuter parking lot. The station has been open neatly 7 years now so there’s been time to better connect the surrounding neighborhoods to transit.

Okay, let’s head to Shrewsbury City Hall located one mile away at 5200 Shrewsbury Ave.

My planned route Lansdowne, Murdoch Cut-Off, Murdoch, Shrewsbury Ave, click map to view in Google Maps
My planned route Lansdowne, Murdoch Cut-Off, Murdoch, Shrewsbury Ave, click map to view in Google Maps
From the station platform I could see the direction I needed to go to reach the Shrewsbury City Hall.
From the station platform I could see the direction I needed to go to reach the Shrewsbury City Hall.
Looks like many walk up/down this hill
Looks like many walk up/down this hill
Others walk here.
Others walk here, but I’d better find a sidewalk I can use.
Now I'm headed down toward Lansdowne Ave, sandwiched between the retaining wall on the left and the auto driveway on the right.
Now I’m headed down toward Lansdowne Ave, sandwiched between the retaining wall on the left and the auto driveway on the right. Not a friendly environment!
At Lansdowne Ave I see pedestrians crossing the street without a crosswalk.
At Lansdowne Ave I see pedestrians crossing the street without a crosswalk. I couldn’t cross here even if I wanted to because of the numerous curbs.
More pedestrians risking getting hit by cars
More pedestrians risking getting hit by cars
I stick to the north side of Lansdowne Ave and head west under the railroad tracks, the Shrewsbury city limit.
I stick to the north side of Lansdowne Ave and head west under the railroad tracks, the Shrewsbury city limit.
I want to cross Lansdowne Ave here but there is no curb cut or crosswalk to allow me to do so.
I want to cross Lansdowne Ave here but there is no curb cut or crosswalk to allow me to do so.
I'm able to use this crosswalk to reach the other side of Murdoch Cut-Off
I’m able to use this crosswalk to reach the other side of Murdoch Cut-Off
But there's no sidewalk on this side of Murdoch Cut-Off
But there’s no sidewalk on this side of Murdoch Cut-Off
So I returned to the intersection to cross Murdoch Cut-Off to reach the point I originally wanted to reach but couldn't
So I returned to the intersection to cross Murdoch Cut-Off to reach the point I originally wanted to reach but couldn’t
After passing the gas station I discover there's no sidewalk on this side of Murdoch Cut-Off either.
After passing the gas station I discover there’s no sidewalk on this side of Murdoch Cut-Off either. It looks like many pedestrians walk in the narrow dirt path, I had to use the narrow shoulder. This point is about 400 feet from where I left the station property.
Looking back from where I'd just traveled you can see a bus stop encouraging pedestrian use of this area.
Looking back from where I’d just traveled you can see a bus stop encouraging pedestrian use of this area.
As Murdoch Cut-Off approaches Murdoch a sidewalk does exist.
As Murdoch Cut-Off approaches Murdoch a sidewalk does exist.
But the sidewalk doesn't continue, it turns and heads back east.
But the sidewalk doesn’t continue, it turns and heads back east. This is about 1/8th of a mile from the station.
I head south on St. Vincent Ave, this view is looking back north from Notttingham.
I head south on St. Vincent Ave, this view is looking back north from Notttingham. Only the west side of St. Vincent Ave has a narrow sidewalk.
The streets intersecting with St. Vincent don't have sidewalks for the first block to Danbury Ave.
The streets intersecting with St. Vincent don’t have sidewalks for the first block to Danbury Ave., I cautiously proceed in the street.
Once past Danbury Ave sidewalks are available
Once past Danbury Ave sidewalks are available
That doesn't mean the sidewalks weren't blocked  at times. This owner had more room on their driveway before their garage door, more than enough to keep the sidewalk clear.
That doesn’t mean the sidewalks weren’t blocked at times. This owner had more room on their driveway before their garage door, more than enough to keep the sidewalk clear.
After I reached Shrewsbury Ave I went north to Murdoch to see where sou;d've been dropped off had I taken a bus.
After I reached Shrewsbury Ave I went north to Murdoch to see where sou;d’ve been dropped off had I taken a bus. This point is about a third of a mile from the corner of the transit station property.
Looking east on Murdoch, the direction I originally thought I'd take.
Looking east on Murdoch, the direction I originally thought I’d take. No sidewalk, only shoulder.
The north side of Murdoch has a sidewalk next to the apartment buildings only.
The north side of Murdoch has a sidewalk next to the apartment buildings only.
This is the bus stop heading back toward the MetroLink station, I caught a bus here a couples of hours later to return downtown.
This is the bus stop heading back toward the MetroLink station, I caught a bus here a couples of hours later to return downtown.
Heading back south toward city hall I passed charming houses and the route was paved and easy to navigate.
Heading back south toward city hall I passed charming houses and the route was paved and easy to navigate. The distance was over a half mile but it was fine, the worst part of the journey was closest to the transit station.
Getting closer to city hall and the neighboring park
Getting closer to city hall and the adjacent Wehner Park
Newer houses mix well with older houses.
Newer houses mix well with older houses.
Almost there
Almost there!
The sidewalk just ends, dumping me into the street. No crosswalk or visible sidewalk into the Shrewsbury City Center complex grounds.
The sidewalk just ends, dumping me into the street. No crosswalk or visible sidewalk into the Shrewsbury City Center complex grounds, just a sidewalk going east & west.
No way in on the east side of the auto drive.
No way in on the east side of the auto drive.
No way in on the west side either, so I had no choice but to use the auto driveway
No pedestrian route on the west side either, so I had no choice but to use the auto driveway
shrewsbury052013-31
A pedestrian route along the east side of the auto driveway would be a direct path to the main entrance of the Shrewsbury City Center complex. Voters approved a bond in 1991 to pay for the renovations to city hall, the work was completed in 1993 — both after The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Leaving at night via the auto driveway. I'd imagine many neighbors drive here from just blocks  away because that's the message the design suggests.
Leaving at night via the auto driveway. I’d imagine many neighbors drive here from just blocks away because that’s the message the design suggests.
My only other time here was Saturday June 17,2006 for a charrette on connecting St. Louis & Shrewsbury to the open MetroLink line, attended by residents, businesses and elected officials.  I drove on that visit.
My only other time here was Saturday June 17,2006 for a charrette on connecting St. Louis & Shrewsbury to the open MetroLink line, attended by residents, businesses and elected officials. I drove on that visit.

Given the substantial capital investment made in the MetroLink expansion and the commitment of sales taxes to help fund Metro I find it unacceptable that nothing has been done in nearly 7 years. Well, the sidewalk along one side of St. Vincent looks like it was done in that time frame, but nothing else looks different. Employees & customers should be able to walk from the MetroLink station to the businesses along Murdoch & Murdock Cut-Off. Shrewsbury residents living within a 1/4 mile of the station should have a easy walk, but they don’t.

I suggest the following action steps:

  1. Metro, St. Louis, Shrewsbury, Trailnet, etc. begin to examine ways to improve the pedestrian experience to/from the Shrewsbury MetroLink/MetroBus station.
  2. Shrewsbury begin to evaluate multiple routes from the station to destinations with Shrewsbury, starting with a walking audit. I’d be happy to participate. Dan Burden from the Walkable & Livable Communities Institute would be an outstanding facilitator.
  3. Shrewsbury work to add an ADA-compliant accessible route to the main accessible entrance of the Shrewsbury City Center complex.

I’m emailing various officials at Shrewsbury & St. Louis this morning to try to raise awareness and get some action.

— Steve Patterson

 

Duncan Sidewalk Fixed, Crosswalk at Newstead Still A Problem

Today when I visit Solae it won’t be a challenge like it has been, last month I discovered a problem that existed since the building opened in 2008 has finally been fixed. Last July I posted about the problem and contacted Solae, Cortex and Washington University.

Here’s what it used to look like, the gap was nearly impossible to navigate:

ABOVE: Solae's contractor left a wide gap between old and new sidewalk on Duncan
Photo from July 2012 post: Solae’s contractor left a wide gap between old and new sidewalk on Duncan

It was suggested in the comments on my post last year that the adjacent building (shown above) owner was responsible. I rejected that idea because it was the construction work at Solae that created the gap that caused the problem. The architect and/or contractor didn’t consider patching the area where they had to over dig.

Now the sidewalk is passable.
Now the sidewalk is passable.

Unfortunately, my trip from the Central West End MetroBus Transfer Center/MetroLink Station still has a major access problem. At Duncan & S. Newstead (map) I can’t use the crosswalk to cross Newstead.

The crosswalk exists but only if you can walk through grass and down a curb.
The crosswalk exists but only if you can walk through grass and down a curb, then jump a curb on the west side of Newstead.
Stepping back we can see the nearest ramp which id designed to cross Duncan, not Newstead
Stepping back we can see the nearest ramp which id designed to cross Duncan, not Newstead
The blue line shows the route I take to cross Newstead
The blue line shows the route I take to cross Newstead
The opposite view shows the brick insert Washington University added to improve the pedestrian experience. Feb 2012 photo.
The opposite view shows one of the many decorative stamped concrete inserts Washington University added throughout their medical campus district to enhance the pedestrian experience. Feb 2012 photo.

Washington University spent considerable time and money on these decorative inserts, seemingly without thought to the functionality of the pedestrian network. This infuriates me beyond words. The money spent could’ve been used to make the area accessible and the sidewalks wide enough so when you meet someone they don’t have to step off the sidewalk into the grass. These decorative inserts are the type of pedestrian improvements are designed to look good on paper and driving by.

Can you imagine if roads were designed for aesthetics rather than function?

We’ll see how long it takes before I can use the crosswalk.

— Steve Patterson

 

Omni Majestic Hotel Protects Pedestrian Route

In February I posted about a problem I had observed, see Bollards Needed to Protect Pedestrian Route Into Omni Majestic Hotel on Pine Street. I contacted the manager of the hotel about the problem, along with a link to my post. 

ABOVE: The problem is this leaves very little of the walkway for pedestrian use.
One of the five pics I used to illustrate the problem of vehicles parking on the pedestrian route.

I’m happy to report the hotel has corrected the situation in a very simple manner: two planters.

Two simple planters tell motorists this isn't a parking space.
Two simple planters tell motorists this isn’t a parking space.

Thank you to the Omni Majestic for taking action to protect the pedestrian route to your hotel.

— Steve Patterson

 

Former River Roads Mall Site Vacant, the Few New Buildings Aren’t Pedestrian Friendly

River_Roads_LogoRiver Roads Mall was located in the north St. Louis County municipality of Jennings, MO:

Opened in 1962, the mall originally featured St. Louis-based Stix, Baer & Fuller as its main anchor store, as well as a Kroger supermarket and a Woolworth dime store. Walgreens operated a store in the mall as well. A 1970s expansion brought JCPenney as a second anchor store. Dillard’s bought the Stix, Baer & Fuller chain in 1984, converting all Stix, Baer & Fuller stores to the Dillard’s name. However, the River Roads Mall store was closed not long afterward in 1986 at the end of the lease. JCPenney converted its store to a JCPenney outlet in 1984. Woolworth closed the River Roads location (along with locations at West County Mall and in South St. Louis City) in early 1991 during one of the chain’s earliest rounds of store closures. By the early 1990s, the mall was briefly renamed St. Louis Consumer Center. (Wikipedia)

Two decades after opening it was already in decline. The surrounding residential neighborhoods remain a decent place to grow up.

Homes facing the former mall remained tidy in 2007
Homes facing the former mall remained tidy in 2007

I love that sidewalks were provided, those didn’t exist in the 1960s subdivision where I grew up, but they’re meaningless because the sidewalks didn’t lead anyone to nearby retail. You see in the 1960s America thought driving everywhere was the future. Cart the kids around until they get a license then they can drive themselves.

A March 2007 view looking south to Jennings Station Rd from River Roads Mall showed no consideration for pedestrians.
A March 2007 view looking south to Jennings Station Rd from River Roads Mall showed no consideration for pedestrians.
When I visited the site in March 2007 the mall had been closed for over a decade but the attached grocery store remained open during the demolition process.
When I visited the site in March 2007 the mall had been closed for over a decade but the attached grocery store remained open during the demolition process.
They had to place signs to make it clear they were open
They had to place signs to make it clear they were open
A corner of the former mall
A corner of the former mall
The mall was located far from Jennings Station & Halls Ferry, not designed to welcome pedestrian shoppers
The mall was located far from Jennings Station & Halls Ferry, not designed to welcome pedestrian shoppers

But we know better now, right? We need to design places to accommodate multiple modes of mobility: car, bike and foot. So you’d think the few new buildings that have been constructed in the last 5-6 years on the edge of the site have improved things for area residents. Well, you may not think so but I expected to see an improvement.

Boy was I disappointed on my first visit in 6+ years.

Pedestrians heading to McDonald's (customers & employees) but go over curbs, through grass and navigate cars. Wheelchair users must use the auto entrances/exits.
Pedestrians heading to McDonald’s (customers & employees) must go over curbs, through grass and navigate cars. Wheelchair users must use the auto entrances/exits, bicyclists must improvise to secure their bikes.
Neighbors wanting to visit Neighbors Credit Union should drive to do so, they've made no provisions to arrive on foot.
Neighbors wanting to visit Neighbors Credit Union shouldn’t walk since they’ve made no provisions for customers to arrive on foot.
Surely senior apartments with accessible units will have a good connection to the sidewalk
Surely senior apartments with accessible units will have a good connection to the sidewalk
The River Roads Manor website brags about being near public transit, too bad residents can't get to it.
The River Roads Manor website lists being near public transit as an amenity, too bad residents can’t get to it without walking in/out auto driveways.

River Roads Manor was a Pyramid Properties project, completed prior to the collapse of the company on April 18, 2008 (see Five Years Since Pyramid Properties Ceased Operations). The McDonald’s & Neighbors Credit Union were started.  So John Steffen’s Pyramid Properties is to blame for not raising the bar in this area.

I just hope  Stacy Hastie of Environmental Operations, the entity that now owns the mall site, will take pedestrian access into consideration in the future. I also hope Jennings will realize their residents do walk places and that new construction should include provisions for them as well as for motorists.

Some of you will say nobody walks, everyone drives. Why then is the area serviced by MetroBus is everyone drives?  All we have to do is take a look at Google Street View to spot pedestrians.

Pedestrian in front of Neighbors Credit Union
Pedestrian in front of Neighbors Credit Union
Pedestrian in front of McDonald's
Pedestrian in front of McDonald’s
Many pedestrians waiting to catch the #16 MetroBus
Many pedestrians waiting to catch the #16 MetroBus

Massive efforts go into accommodating motorists, from municipal codes to vast amounts of paving and land. I just want a pedestrian connection to adjacent streets, I think that’s fair.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



[custom-facebook-feed]

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe