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Different Sidewalk Conditions on the Same Day

When you use a wheelchair to get to the store to buy groceries and pick up prescriptions snow-covered sidewalks are a major barrier. Thankfully we don’t get much snow and most downtown property owners do a good job clearing the sidewalks.

ABOVE: By noon on February 23rd the sidewalk on Washington Ave east of Tucker had been cleared of the snow.
ABOVE: By noon on February 23rd the sidewalk on Washington Ave east of Tucker had been cleared of the snow.

But problems remain, such as parking lot owners pushing snow onto sidewalks.

ABOVE: 40 minutes later the sidewalk on 11th was quite different
ABOVE: 40 minutes later the sidewalk on 11th (between Pine & Olive) was quite different

The sidewalk above is the same one I posted about recently. I even went to the offices of St. Louis Parking to complain but clearly they don’t care about pedestrians or the law.

ABOVE: CPI routinely pushes snow from their parking lot onto the 16th Street sidewalk I use regularly
ABOVE: CPI routinely pushes snow from their parking lot onto the 16th Street sidewalk I use regularly, their parking lot is clear and bone dry.  Taken the same day as the rest of the pics in this post.

This is why we must require a physical barrier like a fence or planter between parking lots and sidewalks. It’s required now but existing lots aren’t required to get updates nor does the city prevent the owners from illegally using the public sidewalk for snow storage.

The other big issue I encounter is curb ramps.

ABOVE: Pedestrians wear a nice path in the snow but this doesn't necessarily correspond to the location of the curb ramp.
ABOVE: Pedestrians wear a nice path in the snow but this doesn’t necessarily correspond to the location of the curb ramp.

This situation is largely the result of a design flaw with how our curb ramps were designed  and installed. Rather than aligning with the standard pedestrian flow they’re at the apex of the corners, pointing toward the center of the intersections rather than the next sidewalk across the street.

I’ll just be very glad when we’re into Spring.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Bollards Needed to Protect Pedestrian Route Into Omni Majestic Hotel on Pine Street

I’m used to building entrances being oriented to auto driveways, such is the case at the Omni Majestic Hotel at 1019 Pine St.  This hotel does have a pedestrian sidewalk to get from the public sidewalk to the entrance.

The design flaw is that it’s too easily overtaken by vehicles and used as additional parking, as happened on the morning of February 12th when I attended a breakfast meeting in the restaurant off the lobby.

ABOVE: The entrance to the Omni Majestic Hotel on Pine faces the mid-block circle drive.
ABOVE: The entrance to the Omni Majestic Hotel on Pine faces the mid-block circle drive.
ABOVE: Moving closer we see the first SUV parked out of the way for other vehicles.
ABOVE: Moving closer we see the first SUV parked out of the way for other vehicles.
ABOVE: The problem is this leaves very little of the walkway for pedestrian use.
ABOVE: The problem is this leaves very little of the walkway for pedestrian use.
ABOVE: Looking from the entrance back out to Pine Street.
ABOVE: Looking from the entrance back out to Pine Street.
ABOVE: The SUV is just outside an emergency exit
ABOVE: The SUV is just outside an emergency exit

This SUV was here when I arrived and when I left an hour later.  Though the driveway and sidewalk are different colors, the fact they are level encourages drivers to park here.

A couple of tasteful bollards are needed to keep the walkway open, a link to this post will be sent to the Omni.

— Steve Patterson

 

Construction Vehicles Break Up Bleak Area

Walking next to One Memorial Drive/Gateway Tower is about as bleak as it gets in St. Louis. Look to the east and you can see the Old Cathedral and Arch, but right next to you is rock and a tall blank wall. The other day at least a few vehicles parked on the beige rock added some visual interest.

ABOVE:
ABOVE: Construction workers parking between the Memorial Drive sidewalk and the blank wall of One Memorial Drive

I’m an advocate of on-street parking because it creates a nice fixed barrier between traffic and pedestrians. Conversely, I generally oppose parking between sidewalk and building because  it creates a fixed barrier limiting pedestrian access. Here the area nearest our big national monument is so dismal the vehicles were a welcomed sight. The contempt  for the pedestrian in 1966 is clearly evident. Pathetic!

— Steve Patterson

 

Signs: Not Just For Blocking Sidewalks Anymore

Businesses have to attract customers to stay in business, I get that. I’ve written before about Shrinking Sidewalks where businesses place their sign directly  in the pedestrian route. Earlier this week the problem was moved to the crosswalk at 14th & Washington Ave.

ABOVE:
ABOVE:  The sign is placed right at the point where the ramp meets the crosswalk.
ABOVE:
ABOVE: Here you can see looking across 14th that the sign is placed directly in the way

This is the only time I’ve seen this sign in the crosswalk, later in the week it was on the sidewalk mostly out of the way. Hopefully it won’t be back in the crosswalk.

— Steve Patterson

 

Reading: Made for Walking by Julie Campoli

Every so often I get a book to review that I keep repeating “Yes!” as I go through it, Made for Walking is that sort of book:

Landscape architect and urban designer Julie Campoli challenges our current notions of space and distance and helps us learn to appreciate and cultivate proximity. In this book, developed as a follow-up to Visualizing Density (2007, co-authored with aerial photographer Alex S. MacLean), she illustrates urban neighborhoods throughout North America with hundreds of street-level photographs.

Researchers delving into the question of how urban form affects travel behavior identify specific characteristics of place that boost walking and transit use while reducing VMT. In the 1990s some pinpointed diversity (of land uses), density, and design as the key elements of the built environment that, in specific spatial patterns, enable alternative transportation. After a decade of successive studies on the topic, these “three Ds” were joined by two others deemed equally important—distance to transit and destination accessibility—and together they are now known as the “five Ds.” Added to the list is another key player: parking.

This book should be required reading for everyone involved in neighborhoods, development, transit in the St. Louis region – especially St. Louis aldermen. Camponi articulates why it is beneficial to change land use patterns, accompanied by hundreds of images to make her points.

Cover of Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form by Julie Camponi. Click image for the publisher's page
Cover of Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form by Julie Camponi. Click image for the publisher’s page with free chapter download

One example I recognized immediately, the Coal Harbour area of Vancouver BC. Here the sidewalks in an area of new high rise buildings are pleasant because smaller-scale buildings front onto them, defining them.

ABOVE: The Coal Harbor area of Vancouver in 2003
ABOVE: The Coal Harbour area of Vancouver in 2003. Click image to view neighborhood in Google Maps.

Here is the chapter list:

  • Everything is somewhere else
  • Five Ds and a P
  • Neighborhood Form
  • Twelve places made for walking
  • Low-carbon neighborhoods
  • The shape of things to come
  • Good bones

Highly recommended!

— Steve Patterson

 

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