Reading: Bike Boom: The Unexpected Resurgence of Cycling by Carlton Reid

 

 As I said Wednesday, I’d participate in the annual World Naked Bike Ride if I could still ride a bike.  However, the current bike boom is doing fine without me. Bicycling advocates envision a future in which bikes are a widespread daily form of transportation. While many global cities are …

Opinion: World Naked Bike Ride St. Louis Is A Great Event

 

 The recent World Naked Bike Ride – St. Louis was the 10th annual here. The purpose is clear: The World Naked Bike Ride in St. Louis is part of an international event to raise awareness of cyclist rights and vulnerability on the road, and promote positive body image and protest …

Five Years Since Huge Fire Destroyed 3949 Lindell Apartments

 

 It was five years ago today that a fire destroyed the 3949 Lindell apartments. They’d been recently completed and occupied for only a few years. Going from memory, the building had sprinklers buy the fire started in an attic space. The remains were so badly damaged it all had to …

Sunday Poll: Does The World Naked Bike Ride Encourage Indecent Exposure?

 

 The annual World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) rolled through St. Louis last night.  Organizers use the phrase “bare as you dare.” Some riders were completely nude, except for shoes. Although you can be as bare as you dare during the ride, the City of St. Louis requests that we cover our …

Recent Articles:

Reading: Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All by Philip Langdon

April 24, 2017 Featured, Reading, Walkability Comments Off on Reading: Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All by Philip Langdon
 

Last week I received a new book that immediately caught my attention. Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All speaks to a core personal issue for me — walkability. Before the personal automobile displaced public transit, most everything in American cities was within walking distance. For nearly a century now Euclidean, AKA single-use, zoning has actively created places that are well beyond walking distance.

I’m not alone in seeking out walkable places:

For five thousand years, human settlements were nearly always compact places. Everything a person needed on a regular basis lay within walking distance. But then the great project of the twentieth century—sorting people, businesses, and activities into separate zones, scattered across vast metropolises—took hold, exacting its toll on human health, natural resources, and the climate. Living where things were beyond walking distance ultimately became, for many people, a recipe for frustration. As a result, many Americans have begun seeking compact, walkable communities or looking for ways to make their current neighborhood better connected, more self-sufficient, and more pleasurable.

In Within Walking Distance, journalist and urban critic Philip Langdon looks at why and how Americans are shifting toward a more human-scale way of building and living. He shows how people are creating, improving, and caring for walkable communities. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Starting conditions differ radically, as do the attitudes and interests of residents. To draw the most important lessons, Langdon spent time in six communities that differ in size, history, wealth, diversity, and education, yet share crucial traits: compactness, a mix of uses and activities, and human scale. The six are Center City Philadelphia; the East Rock section of New Haven, Connecticut; Brattleboro, Vermont; the Little Village section of Chicago; the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon; and the Cotton District in Starkville, Mississippi. In these communities, Langdon examines safe, comfortable streets; sociable sidewalks; how buildings connect to the public realm; bicycling; public transportation; and incorporation of nature and parks into city or town life. In all these varied settings, he pays special attention to a vital ingredient: local commitment.

To improve conditions and opportunities for everyone, Langdon argues that places where the best of life is within walking distance ought to be at the core of our thinking. This book is for anyone who wants to understand what can be done to build, rebuild, or improve a community while retaining the things that make it distinctive. (Island Press)

I’ve visited Portland’s Perl District and Philadelphia’s Center City, in July we’ll go to Chicago’s Little Village. Learning from other places is one of the smartest ways to get the inspiration to tackle neighborhoods that have great potential.

Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All by Philip Langdon, releasing next month, is available via Island Press, Left Bank Books, and Amazon.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Close Interstate Rest Areas?

April 23, 2017 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll, Transportation Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Close Interstate Rest Areas?
 
Please vote below

Missouri has low fuel taxes and the legislature is unwilling to increase it. Maintenance needs remain. Some states in this situation have opted to closer rest areas:

For more than half a century, old-fashioned, no-frills highway rest stops have welcomed motorists looking for a break from the road, a bathroom or a picnic table where they can eat lunch.

But in some states, these roadside areas are disappearing.

Cash-strapped transportation agencies are shuttering the old ones to save money, or because they don’t attract enough traffic or are in such bad shape that renovating them is too costly. Or, the stops have been overtaken by tourist information centers, service plazas that take in revenue from gasoline and food sales, or commercial strips off interstate exits. (USA Today)

How many rest areas does Missouri have?

Missouri maintains 8 Welcome Center’s, 14 Rest Areas, and 23 Truck-Only Parking sites across the state. Located on seven different Interstates, the facilities feature a variety of easy-to-access amenities to serve travelers. (MoDOT)

Below is today’s poll:

This poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

Lyda Krewson Is The 5th Mayor Since I Moved To St. Louis

April 21, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Lyda Krewson Is The 5th Mayor Since I Moved To St. Louis
 

On Tuesday, while waiting for the inauguration of our first new mayor in 16 years, I reflected on the mayors we’ve had since I moved here in August 1990. For many of you, Francis Slay has been the only mayor you’ve had as a voting-age adult. This could be because you’re young or because you moved here since 2001.

Mayor Lyda Krewson making her way to Room 200 after being sworn in and giving her inaugural speech in the rotunda.

Mayor Krewson is the 5th mayor since I moved to St. Louis. Vince Schoemehl was in his 3rd/last term when I arrived. Freeman Bosley Jr. was elected in 1993, followed by Clarence Harmon in 1997.  Then Slay.

I also thought about how my interaction with them has changed over the years.

  1. Schoemehl — I never met him while he was mayor, it was only after I started this blog that I met him. He recognizes me now.
  2. Bosley — I met him once during his 4-year term, at an event at O’Fallon Park announcing planned renovations. I gave him a book on urban planning.
  3. Harmon — I don’t recall ever meeting him.
  4. Slay — I didn’t know him before he became mayor. Even after I had started this blog he didn’t know who I was. Over his 16 years in office that changed, but our interaction was limited to polite chit chat at events such as press briefings or ribbon cuttings. I did come to meet many people on his staff.
  5. Krewson — keep reading to learn about how different my relationship is with our 46th mayor.

I knew about Lyda Krewson years before I first met her, the story of her husband being murdered in front of her and their young children was big news in the early 90s.

I can’t recall the first time I met her in person, but it was likely after starting this blog in October 2004.  I recall when I was first dealing with restaurants taking up entire blocks for valet parking she was the only alderman who would talk with me about the problem and possible solutions.

In early 2009 I was bugging Krewson about getting on Twitter, having a blog, and getting an iPhone. She joined Twitter on April 1, 2009. On April 4th I created a Tumblr account for her, I also suggested she register her name as a domain — but that didn’t happen until May 2013. At the time I wanted every alderperson to be on social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc). Remember, this is when recently ousted Alderman Ken Ortman refused to accept email communications through the city website!

In 2013 my then boyfriend moved from Springfield IL to live with me — I invited people over for a welcome party. Among the guests were Lyda Krewson and husband, reporter turned lawyer, Mike Owens.  In August last year she came by again — this time to ask for my endorsement. As filing hadn’t opened yet I wanted to see the field before I’d make any endorsement. I shared that I was very pessimistic about St. Louis’ future. Krewson was the only candidate to ask for my endorsement & vote.

As the March primary approached I realized I wasn’t excited about any candidate for mayor — none had the ability or will to change the culture in city hall, the city, or the region. A week before the primary I saw Krewson at a Loop Trolley event and she asked me if she had my vote. Always honest, I said I’d already voted for someone else via absentee ballot. I could’ve played politics and sucked up to her since she was favored to win — but that’s not me.

Over the years Krewson and I have debated politics/policy online and in person. Though we haven’t always agreed, we’ve been cordial and the conversations productive.

I wish Mayor Krewson the best of luck, I want her to succeed and surprise me.

— Steve Patterson

Opinion: Turnstiles Are For Fare Collection, Not Public Safety

April 19, 2017 Crime, Featured, Public Transit Comments Off on Opinion: Turnstiles Are For Fare Collection, Not Public Safety
 

Many, including regional elected officials, letters to the editor, and others, are pushing the idea of turnstiles as a way to increase public safety on our MetroLink light rail system. Incredibly ill-informed because turnstiles, physical & virtual, are meant to combat fare-evasion.

Heavy rail systems like Chicago’s EL, the NYC subway, and DC’s Metro, have long had turnstiles to address fare evasion.They still have crime issues on trains & platforms. Turnstiles do not prevent crime.

CTA’s Brown line train at the Chicago Ave station, February 2017

Light rail systems, like ours, have been proof-0f-payment systems. This significantly reduced initial costs and making the system more welcoming. Some closed systems are even removing their turnstiles to increase ridership:

By nixing fare gates, public transit agencies emphasize ease of access over making every last rider pay. Europe got into “proof of payment” systems—where wandering personnel request evidence you paid your way—in the 1960s. They made it to American shores, mostly in light rail systems, by the 1990s.

Now, 21st century tech is making it easier than ever to blow up the turnstile. Modernized, cash-free fare payment methods—like reloadable tap-and-go cards, or apps that let riders use smartphones to get tickets, Apple Pay-style—speed up boarding. Passengers don’t have to struggle past fare gates. They can board through any door, instead of pushing through a bus’s front entrance to pay the driver.

The result: Faster vehicles, less crowding, and thus more frequent service, leading (hopefully) to more riders overall.  (Wired: Ignoring Fare Evaders Can Make Mass Transit Faster—And Richer)

Here Metro St. Louis has been updating stations with a high tech fare gate that will hopefully be ready soon.

In relative terms, the installation of turnstiles has a fixed investment cost, so the price increases linearly based on the number of stations in a system, not based on the number of riders or the length of a route. As a result, it makes more sense to install them in cities where each transit station handles a high number of users. (The Transport Politic: Are Turnstiles Worth Their Cost?)

The source above lists a number of cities and the cost to add turnstiles. In 2009 they estimated it would take St. Louis & Portland OR 45 years to break even on turnstiles, Charlotte NC was the only one higher at 50 years. The 2009 cost was $1.25 million per station — roughly $1.4 million per station in current dollars. With 37 stations in the system that’s $52 million!  Entering & exiting the system would be more cumbersome for everyone — some paying riders would very likely stop riding. Many of the 4% that currently evade fares would struggle to get to work.

Turnstiles do not prevent crime, from May 2015:

The leading crime on the CTA, theft, was down 38 percent, from 514 thefts reported in the first four months of 2014 to 320 thefts during the same period this year. The decline comes on the heels of a 26 percent drop during all of 2014 compared with 2013, the Police Department reported. Last year saw the fewest serious crimes in the previous four years, according to police statistics.

Robberies, the second most common crime on CTA property, declined 20 percent through April of this year, to 92 reported incidents from 115 for the same time a year ago, police data show.

The data so far this year indicate on average four serious crimes a day on the CTA, which provides 1.6 million rides each weekday. (Chicago Tribune: Safety tips for riders as summer kicks transit crime into high gear)

From July 2016:

Some CTA riders are concerned after a recent spike in crime. Police issued a community alert warning of two men robbing people at gunpoint on CTA trains and at CTA stations. Surveillance photos of the suspects were released overnight. Police are also investigating a stabbing.

Police said the men showed a black handgun and used pepper spray on their victims. After taking their cell phones, wallets and cash, police said the suspects exited the train at the next stop or jumped over turnstiles as they ran from the stop. (ABC7 Chicago: CTA RIDERS ON ALERT AFTER RECENT ARMED ROBBERIES, STABBING)

Turnstiles do not prevent crime, from NYC:

A disgruntled straphanger waved a gun at an MTA worker because he was upset over service disruptions, cops said.

The irate passenger confronted the 44-year-old worker just before 12 p.m. Monday on a Brooklyn-bound A train, police said. (Fox News: Angry NYC subway rider pulls gun on worker over bad service)

Turnstiles do not prevent crime.

Metro’s planned 2015 fare gate system was to help reduce fare evasion:

When we roll out smart card technology next year, the lights on ticket validating machines will let you know if your Gateway Card has enough money stored on it to take Metro. In the future, if your smart card is not valid for travel, the light will flash red. The lights are being turned on for testing on the MetroLink system.

The Gateway Card will offer a more convenient, secure way for you to pay Metro transit fares. Instead of paper tickets or passes, the Gateway Card will contain a computer chip that stores Metro passes or cash value. The fare is automatically deducted when you tap your card on fare equipment each time you ride. (NextStop Blog: MetroLink Ticket Validator Machines Lighting Up)

Turnstiles physical & otherwise do not prevent crime. Their goal is to increase fare recovery without reducing ridership in the process. That’s it.

Sadly just over half of those who voted in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll have bought into the notion that turnstiles can reduce crime:

Q: Agree or disagree: Adding turnstiles at MetroLink light rail stations will greatly improve public safety.

  • Strongly agree 9 [13.04%]
  • Agree 8 [11.59%]
  • Somewhat agree 19 [27.54%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [2.9%]
  • Somewhat disagree 6 [8.7%]
  • Disagree 12 [17.39%]
  • Strongly disagree 12 [17.39%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [1.45%]

Please don’t be fooled by the turnstile magic bullet.

— Steve Patterson

 

Some Drivers Get Confused On Locust Street at Tucker

April 17, 2017 Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Some Drivers Get Confused On Locust Street at Tucker
 

Many people get confused by one-way streets. At least once per week I see this on display at Locust & Tucker. Locust St is one-way Westbound as it approaches Tucker. Those of us familiar with the area know both lanes can continues straight and cross Tucker; the left lane can also turn left onto Southbound Tucker, the right lane can also turn right onto Northbound Tucker. Simple enough.

Looking West toward Tucker
Same view with cars in both lanes

So what’s the confusion? I often see the first car to the light be in the right lane but signaling to turn left. If nobody stops to their left I’ve seen them turn left from the right lane. I’ve seen then try to do a double left from the right lane — even though cars in the left lane can go straight.

Clearly it isn’t obvious to some motorists that wish to turn left that they should be in the left lane. When we drive here we’re usually in the right lane going straight — less likely to get hit by a confused motorist than if we went straight in the left lane. .

Signs &/or pavement markings might help clarify this intersection.

— Steve Patterson

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

UrbanReview ST LOUIS updated their cover photo. ... See MoreSee Less

3 hours ago  ·  

Current progress on Kingshighway & Forest Park intersection. #stl ... See MoreSee Less

11 hours ago  ·  

‪Security guard on MetroLink train asking to see tickets & passes has a great personality, had us all smiling & laughing. #stl ‬ ... See MoreSee Less

13 hours ago  ·  

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe