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Shrinking Sidewalks

The sidewalks downtown seem to be shrinking in width, even though the curb line hasn’t changed in years.

ABOVE: On paper the sidewalks on Washington Ave are a decent width, various elements reduce the effective width considerably

When I first passed Copia, above, on Wednesday three people were conversing just outside the door, blocking my only path. One moved the sign as I started to hit it and he said “sorry”, apologizing for the sign blocking the sidewalk.  A half an hour later I come back through and the sign is placed in the same location. The supports for the awning also reduce the width. So does the planter in the background.

Block after block our sidewalks are effectively reduced to single file. Not exactly friendly or what was envisioned when the sidewalks were widened at significant public expense some years ago.

If allowed, some adjacent property owners will privatize the public sidewalk.

— Steve Patterson

 

Lack Of Crosswalks May Have Contributed To Death Of Boy

On the evening of Friday October 5th a tragedy happened:

A boy has died and another is in critical condition after a pickup truck hit them and left the scene in Pagedale Friday evening.

The incident happened at about 7:30 p.m. in the 7300 block of St. Charles Rock Road in Pagedale at Salerno Drive, just east of Pennsylvania Avenue. (stltoday.com)

His 10 year-old brother survived, with serious injuries. Earlier this month I visited the accident site, well I got as close as I could.

ABOVE: The boys crossed St. Charles Rock Road to reach the gas station/convenience store on the right.
ABOVE: A power pole pays tribute to 4 year-old Traye-shon Williams killed at the scene.

I couldn’t reach the convenience store or cross the street in my wheelchair due to a lack of sidewalks and crosswalks.  The distance between signalized crossings is more than a quarter mile, as a result pedestrians regularly cross the street where it is convenient to do so.

ABOVE: A woman crossing St. Charles Rock Road just east of the accident location.

Media reports focussed solely on the driver’s record:

In the last 30 years, he has been arrested about 150 times, almost always while driving in north St. Louis County. Six of his 11 DWI arrests resulted in convictions: four times on misdemeanors and two on felonies. He has served fewer than two years total in prison on the DWI charges. (He also has served time in prison on gun charges.) (stltoday.com)

Yes, those who drink & drive are a problem, but only part of it. The other part of the problem is this area, just a short distance from the Rock Road MetroBus/MetroLink center isn’t designed for use by pedestrians.

My sympathies to the families of all involved.

— Steve Patterson

 

Crappy Little Commercial Boxes Rarely Go Away

Buildings are largely permanent structures, although a demolition crew can change that quickly. Much of what we build stays with us for decades. Lowest common denominator auto centric structures, such as gas stations, seem to live on forever.

Early gas stations of the 1920s were small, much closer to the sidewalk and had details similar to housing of the day. Today these are often viewed as charming.

ABOVE: The former QT on Gravois in the Bevo area is something new, not sure what though.

Get off the bus or just walk down the sidewalk this spot is an urban void. What are the hours of this business? A menu? Heck, how do I even get to the front door?

ABOVE: The former convenience store structure built in 1991 is set far back from the sidewalk unlike adjacent properties.

Check out the aerial on Google Maps here to see how this is a radical departure from the long-established commercial district. This never should’ve been built 21 years ago. Too late for Bevo but we must prevent further such atrocities to happen to our urban commercial districts.

Hopefully I’ll see the day a new 2-3 story commercial building is built, up to the sidewalk, on this site.

— Steve Patterson

 

Entrance Stairs Makes 19th Street Sidewalk Useless

Recently, on my way home from the Schlafly Tap Room, I ran into problem after problem.  At 19th there was no curb cut so I couldn’t continue east.

ABOVE: Can’t proceed when encountering a corner without a curb ramp. The opposite corner has a ramp that’s pretty useless without a ramp in this side of 19th St. Click image to view map.

As I had to do at 22nd to get to the Tap Room, I thought I’d go mid-block and cross at the alley. But turning south on 19th I discovered another problem newer than the granite curb.  A friend went with me a few days later to get pics of me on what’s left of the sidewalk.

ABOVE: The wide steps/wheelchair ramp for Jim Edmonds 15 Steakhouse makes the sidewalk on 19th Street almost impossible to use, my wheelchair barely fit between the stair and parking meter.
ABOVE: The width of the wheelchair ramp (right edge) is fine, it is the stairs that create the problem.
ABOVE: Close up you can see just how tight this sidewalk is now.

Based on city records, a $1.3 million renovation project took place in 2007 to create  I saw no separate building permit listed for an exterior ramp and stairs. I don’t know who’s at fault for this, but something has to change! The public sidewalk cannot be pinched down this narrow for private use.

Was it designed this way?  Perhaps, but my guess is a field change made the steps wider so the open door wouldn’t block the steps (see 2nd pic). However it happened, it should’ve been caught by someone in the city building department.

I see two solutions to be paid for by the responsible party: remove the extra wide part of this construction or take out the adjacent parking lane to widen the sidewalk. Neither will be cheap.  Just removing the parking meter might be marginally acceptable.

But wait, there is more!

ABOVE: Just trying to reach the alley so I could cross 19th St. I encountered big blue blocking my way, forcing me to squeeze past the stairs and find another route. .

The 3-story building contains multiple tenants, including  Jim Edmonds 15 Steakhouse on the first floor, insideSTL.com on the 2nd floor and a law firm on the 3rd.

I’m emailing this post to Todd Waelternan, Director of Streets, and David Newburger, Office on the Disabled, for action. I’ll be discussing this and other topics tonight with DJ Wilson on KDHX’s Collateral Damage show at 8:30pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Please Keep Sidewalks Clear Of Foliage

There are many sidewalks that I am unable to use. The reasons vary: no curb cut, broken/rough, etc. But I often encounter another problem: foliage.

ABOVE: Public sidewalk along Loughborough significantly narrowed by overgrown shrubs.

I was able to get past the above just by pushing my way through but a senior walking with a cane, for example, might not be able to get by. Stepping onto the lawn increases the risk of a fall.  This is an odd area since the public sidewalk is so far away from the curb and so close to the houses, but those overgrown shrubs need to go.

ABOVE: I couldn’t get past this growth to reach the #94 MetroBus stop/Wellston MetroLink station, I had to backtrack and take another route.

Keeping tree canopies high enough the average person can walk on the sidewalk without ducking is a good thing. Imagine if roads were similarly blocked with foliage, crews would be dispatched immediately to clear them.

— Steve Patterson

 

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