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Yellow Curb Isn’t Visible Enough To Keep Motorists From Parking In Bus Stops

One of my pet peeves is blocked bus stops, people thinking they’re entitled to park in them. To be fair, many drivers who do so may just be oblivious to the fact that buses need to pull up next to the curb so some of us can board/deboard. The response of some is “call the police” or “tow them away.”  Yes, enforcement is part of the solution — but the St. Louis Police really have more important things to do. I don’t think Metro’s Police have jurisdiction on city streets.

Besides, the police can be just as guilty.

Last year A St. Louis traffic police officer parked in front of a fire hydrant and blocked the adjacent bus stop. Market at 16th.
Last year A St. Louis traffic police officer parked in front of a fire hydrant and blocked the adjacent bus stop. Market at 16th.

When you’re on the bus and need to get off at a blocked stop you can’t expect it to wait a couple of hours for a tow truck to remove the offending car, or when you need to get on the bus you don’t have time for enforcement to work. Ticketing the car still doesn’t get you on the bus.

What’s needed at some bus stops is highly visible markings so the oblivious drivers see they shouldn’t park there. Those who don’t care will potentially be more embarrassed parking in a visible bus stop than at a yellow curb. It doesn’t need to be complicated, just out of the ordinary.

Paint is cheap, by painting the pavement in addition to the curb they've made it clear this isn't for parking. Location: in front of St. Louis Police Headquarters on  Olive.
Paint is cheap, by painting the pavement in addition to the curb they’ve made it clear this isn’t for parking. Location: in front of St. Louis Police Headquarters on Olive.

I’ve said all this before, so why bring it up again? Last Tuesday morning my husband and I visited the St. Louis Zoo, we were there for four hours — great time.  I returned downtown the way I arrived, via public transit in my wheelchair. My husband drove our car, going directly to work. Leaving the Zoo’s North entrance I saw a problem as soon as I started across the street to the bus stop.

The last three vehicles are parked in the bus stop I need to get home
The last three vehicles are parked in the bus stop I need to get home
I'm now at the spot where the bus should extend the ramp to pick me up.
I’m now at the spot where the bus should extend the ramp to pick me up.

I went down to the corner to wave at the bus as it approached. It turned the corner and stopped in the street since it couldn’t get to the curb. All traffic was now stopped. I rolled in the street to reach the bus. After I paid the fare the ramp was folded back into the bus — the #3 Forest Park Trolley. I was inconvenienced, the other passengers were inconvenienced, other motorists were inconvenienced, the bus was delayed so more people were inconvenienced.

My goal is compliance, to ensure people don’t park in the bus stop. Sure, increased enforcement of tickets, booting, & towing might also keep it clear. But at what cost? First the person(s) that would be assigned to increased enforcement wouldn’t be able to serve the public elsewhere in the city or park.  Ticketing, booting,  & towing also isn’t free — and it just server to anger motorists. Yes, they parked at a yellow curb. I suspect many didn’t notice, or didn’t see any harm.

If there is paint on the pavement though, the oblivious excuse goes out the window. Adding the words “NO PARKING”, “BUS STOP, and/or “TOW AWAY ZONE” would convey the message to the driver that parking here isn’t a good idea.

The stop above is served by the #90 (Hampton) and #3 (Forest Park Trolley)

The Metro #3 Forest Park Trolley is a partnership between Forest Park Forever, Bi-State Development Agency/Metro, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis Zoo, and the City of St. Louis. (Forest Park Forever)

This trolley bus operates May through September, largely to mitigate the summer problem of traffic congestion within the park.

2012: People board the Forest Park Trolley to visit the park
2012: People board the Forest Park Trolley to visit the park

I’d like to see these seven partners take action so the bus can reliably be used by everyone. On Twitter I offered to ride the trolley with them so they can see which stops are problematic. I suggested the stops be painted solid so they’re not only visible to motorists but to visitors. The stops could become part of the marketing effort.

I emailed Forest Park Forever President & Executive Director Lesley Hoffarth, who replied, and said they’re working on new striping for the park now, this issue will be taken into consideration. I’m not optimistic it’ll be solved. The new striping work should be done before Fall, I’ll keep trying to influence the work before it’s done.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. guest says:

    The thing that really fries my bacon is when street trees are allowed to grow in front of stop signs, completely blocking them from view. Talk about dangerous! And it goes on all over town. Who is supposed to keep those trees trimmed?? A city that manages the little things well can be more trusted with the big things…

  2. JZ71 says:

    Why yellow? Why not red?

    I know, it’s the “way it’s always been”, here, but I’ve seen red paint used in other states, and it sends a much stronger, less ambiguous message – yellow=caution, red=stop. But, no matter which color, it all boils down to enforcement – no enforcement = people abusing the rules!

    • Kaylick says:

      I agree. It’s more about enforcement. Since I’ve moved to St Louis 4 years ago, I here people make the same statement as Steve above “The Police have more important things to do” … NO THEY DON’T … The role of an officer isn’t to just take care of MAJOR crimes, but to also do the boring stuff as well. Like ticketing people who park in bus zones. Everyone in this city knows the police don’t enforce “minor” things, so they just park wherever they want, run though stop signs, and race down residential streets. Ugh. Sorry. I just hate when people say police have more important things to do. 🙂

      • JZ71 says:

        Actually, the police do have more important things to do than to write parking tickets. Parking enforcement should be (and is) left to the Parking Violations Bureau of the Treasurer’s office. The real question is why THEY are not more dilligent / aggressive in their enforcement efforts, since more enforcement = more revenue (along with better compliance)! https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/treasurer/parking-violations/

        • They are very diligent, writing lots of tickets. In 2014 I photographed them ticketing cars at this bus stop. Those who got tickets might not park there again, but many more will. Relying on enforcement is to accept the bus stop will remain blocked, it’s a source of revenue.

          • JZ71 says:

            I’ve lived where parking enforcement is much more aggressive, and St. Louis is no where close to being aggressive. Check out Parking Wars – http://www.aetv.com/parking-wars/video – for aggressive enforcement. And check out these cities’ and universities’ websites, for actually useful information, unlike St. Louis’: https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/treasurer/parking-violations/


          • You and others seem to think enforcement is a ‘silver bullet’ solution to the problem. Yes, enforcement could improve but so can the design to reduce violations.

            We shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket.

          • Kaylick says:

            Personally, I don’t think anything is a “silver bullet” Steve… It takes many things/people working together to do something better. Your design ideas are spot on and very much needed. But, without enforcement, people will continue to behave because there are no consequences. Trust me, I wish we didn’t need the police at all. Because, honestly, sometimes, some of them are very bad.

            My point above was that I hear PEOPLE say that policer have better things to do. What are these “better” things? I’ve heard major crimes. But, if we were to be a little more proactive and work on minor crimes, we might be able to prevent some major ones 🙂

            You are correct and we all need to do a little bit better in our neighborhoods to consider those that don’t always drive.

          • I’m inconvenienced often, I’ve called the police numerous times. I’m not a priority,

            But yes, the solution is a combination of design & better enforcement.

          • JZ71 says:

            I agree, better design would help. But without better enforcement mechanisms, you and others will remain “not a priority”. People generally weigh risk versus reward. If you’re rewarded by getting away with parking illegally 19 out of 20 times, the temptation is just to pay the fine for that 1-1n-20 instance of getting caught. Until the odds change, it’s way easier to park blocking a sidewalk, a bus stop or crosswalk than it is to deal with finding a better, legal spot. Much like speeding or rolling thru stop signs, it doesn’t matter how good or bad the design may be, many (most?) people will “push the envelope” as long they know the chances of getting caught are minimal . . .

  3. JZ71 says:

    Just another example (from Denver): “I’m assuming that parking enforcement officers are commission and/or quota based, and some are abusing the system. I had 2 tickets within 10 minutes of the meter expiring (when I got back) outside Union Station; apparently, 4 tickets are allowed, per 24 hour period, so I had to pay them both. I paid $40.50 to park for 40 minutes. Garage valet parking in downtown San Francisco is cheaper. Didn’t I pay for the concrete, meter, jeep, paper, gas and officer already? 2 tickets in 10 minutes is an abuse of the system. I researched and found big ticket counts at places that attract lots of visitors but on one block last year the city issued nearly 5400 parking tickets with fines totaling $230,000. Economic waste cake, with beureaucratic-strong-arm frosting, and fraudulent “enforcement” sprinkles on top. But, I’m not bitter.” . . . then check out the 85+ comments!



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