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Minimum width sidewalks are less than optimal

March 18, 2010 Accessibility, Downtown 17 Comments

I recently stopped at 7-11 located at 17th & Pine to rent a movie from the RedBox.

As I was standing there a customer came out of the store and needed to get past me, he was using a motorized wheelchair similar to my own wheelchair and the sidewalk was at the minimum width so I had to move to the side so he could pass.  Not a big deal but I’m not the most mobile person in the world.  When you build walkways to the minimum standard you inconvenience pedestrians.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "17 comments" on this Article:

  1. erseaf says:

    If the store had not put a Red Box there would it have been wide enough?

    • Without the RedBox I wouldn't have been standing there.

      • erseaf says:

        Yeah, that's my point. Businesses should not block sidewalks with stuff – red boxes, tables, etc. The sidewalk is wide enough even at its minimum until something is placed on the sidewalk decreased the usable surface area.

  2. adamflath says:

    I took the train to work yesterday for the first time from downtown to the Richmond Heights Station. Walking south under the bridge of the I64 they forgot to add a sidewalk. So i got to walk in mud in my nice work shoes. First think that popped in my head was that Steve Patterson would be all over this. Off topic I know, but every time I see a crappy built sidewalk or none at all, I actually think about it due to this blog. 🙂

    • I've seen that from my car. I'm planning a trip in my wheelchair to get up close where I can check it out and get pictures. You are talking at Brentwood I assume?

      • adamflath says:

        Correct, I walked to the Wholefoods shopping center (Magna Building) Walking south from the Richmond Heights Station, they have sidewalks all the way past the burger-king and under the bridge. But once past the bridge… sidewalk just stops, and there is no way cross over to Brentwood. I think the last place to cross over Brentwood is back near the mall.

        • ScottF says:

          You can actually cross Brentwood on the north side of Eager. There was a sidewalk there, but they have not re-painted it since they re-surfaced Brentwood. The pedestrian signal is still there and working, though.

          I asked the I-64 people about the lack of crosswalk and cutouts (and sidewalks) in that area, and they told me the city of Brentwood is going to redevelop that whole northeast corner of the intersection. I have not yet followed up with the City of Brentwood regarding their plans.

  3. luvdahood says:

    This is obviously a Sec. 504 accessibility issue and the building commissioner's office is responsible for setting the parameters for sidewalks in compliance w/BOCA acessibility codes that assure sidewalks meet national standards to reasonably accommodate the handicap, that agency is responsible for approving plans and issues building permits, so the buck stops at their doorsteps. 7-11 can move the Redbox but the Reasonable Accommodation issue remains.

  4. JZ71 says:

    The minimum is just that, the minimum acceptable, not the ideal. At least they're meeting the minimum. So what if you “had to move to the side so he could pass”? You're only griping about this because it's either on private property and/or because the offending item is a Redbox. If this were a public sidewalk and the offending item were a scooter, a newsstand or outside diners, then it'd be OK since they're appropriately “urban”.

    I think we all agree that urban life is messy – crowded and a bit chaotic. But much like free speech, if you're going to accept random items encroaching on the public right-of-way, you can't pick and choose just based on personal whim/what you consider to be “good”. You were able to get by, the other person was able to get by, case closed, life goes on.

    The alternative is likely worse. Doubling the width of the sidewalk, to address a minor conflict that happens maybe once a day, is like killing a fly with a shotgun. It's also the same logic that brought us freeways, wide suburban streets and parking lots sized for Black Friday . . .

    • In my daily life I run into these conflict points far too often, maybe 10 on a trip to the store. We can do better than just brush it off as life is messy.

      • JZ71 says:

        Does that mean that you'd support a requirement for maintaining a 5' wide clear path, at all times, between seated sidewalk diners on Washington Avenue? We all run into conflict points every day, be they doorways, puddles, narrow sidewalks, narrow streets, whatever. Someone has to stop and “give way”. It's called common courtesy. In a “perfect” world, could they all be “fixed”? Sure, but at what cost? Urban is messy, suburban tries to be/is neat and orderly. There are plenty of places downtown, unfortunately, where there are no conflicts – they're mostly in front of vacant storefronts or blank walls . . .

  5. stannate says:

    Sounds like a message the owners at Baladas need to hear. Yes, they have some tables and chairs for outdoor seating that can be moved, but the sidewalk around that restaurant has cut-outs for plants (though nothing has grown in those spots in the last 3-5 years) which minimizes the sidewalk width. When you add in the awning on the Pine Street side that covers up their smoker, you have a restaurant that frequently violates the minimum width requirements.

    • Yes, it can be pretty bad at that corner. It is more a design issue for the city & building owner. Street trees in a downtown area should have grates around them so the sidewalk is not narrowed. The city should have design standards that require developers to include these grates when they change a public sidewalk.

      • Thor Randolphson says:

        Grates can be nice, but you will often hear from LA's who state they are bad for trees and advocate tree pits.

        Personally I think it depends on the type of area. On more residential streets, I think the tree pits are fine, but on commercial corridors, you need the grate to not compromise sidewalk width.

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