Home » Accessibility » Recent Articles:

Retrofitting A Pedestrian Access Route To The Former Schnucks In Des Peres, MO

Based on comments on Monday’s post (Walking To The “Flagship” Dierbergs & Schnucks Locations In Des Peres, MO) many of you think the auto-centric suburbs will never be walkable. Well, you’re wrong. They’ll likely never  be ideal urban settings but they can be retrofitted to enable people to function without having to drive. This is important because we need to walk more:

There is a growing recognition that Americans must increase physical activity, including walking or bicycling, if we are to nudge the needle on ballooning health care costs, reducing obesity and overweight, cardiovascular and other chronic illnesses linked to a lack of exercise. Over the last decade, a growing number of communities have gotten the message, and begun to retrofit their more dangerous roadways to be safer for people on foot, on bicycles and in cars.

Still, most Americans continue to live in places where walking is risky business for their health and safety, where roads are designed solely to move speeding traffic and where pedestrians are viewed as an obstacle.

This has left us with a dilemma: Public health officials encourage Americans of all ages to walk and bike more to stem the costly and deadly obesity epidemic – yet many of our streets are simply not safe. Americans get to pick their poison: less exercise and poor health, or walking on roads where more than 47,000 people have died in the last ten years. (Dangerous by Design 2011)

Des Peres and other St. Louis suburbs have had sidewalks along major roads for years, yet few pedestrians.  The lack of connection from the public sidewalk to the businesses set back behind parking lots has been a major hurdle. When these older commercial buildings are retrofitted or replaced we have the opportunity to make incremental improvements to improve the walkability.  For example, the location of the old Schnucks grocery in Des Peres.

Schnucks was there for over 40 years but, like the new location, it didn’t have any pedestrian route to the store. Now the building has a new facade and two new retailers and a pedestrian access route.

ABOVE: An auto entrance to the former Schnucks in Des Peres
ABOVE: In the reuse of the vacant grocery store, a sidewalk was added to so pedestrians had an access route.
ABOVE: The new pedestrian access route gives pedestrians a safe way to get from the public sidewalk to the businesses.
ABOVE: A crosswalk is provided where the access route crosses the auto drive.
ABOVE: The view looking south toward Manchester Rd. at Lindeman Rd.
ABOVE: Pedestrians have a route to the new free-standing fast food restaurant on the property.

This is not great urbanism, nor is it my idea of walkable. But, I was able to easily get to the businesses without feeling like I might get hit by a careless motorist. It’s incrementally more walkable than it’s been for the over four decades. Walkability doesn’t happen overnight. Des Peres will not become a great walkable community by 2014, but it might by 2032.

I’ve posted the following video before but it’s worth watching over and over.  Ellen Dunham-Jones shows us ways to retrofit the suburban sprawl few like but that many call home. Well worth 20 minutes of your time.


Continuing with a laissez-faire development strategy will, however, guarantee Des Peres and similar suburbs won’t be much different in 20 years. In 20 years the marketplace will pass up suburbs that require an automobile to function.  Within the next two decades those communities where various modes of mobility are embraced will be the desirable “location, location, location” places. This includes walking, biking transit and yes, driving.

— Steve Patterson


Follow Up: St. Louis Bread (Panera) Builds New ADA Ramp

September 4, 2012 Accessibility, Featured, South City, Walkability Comments Off on Follow Up: St. Louis Bread (Panera) Builds New ADA Ramp

On February 20th I posted out the lack of an ADA Accessible Route in South St. Louis  (see: Poor Pedestrian Accessibly at Saint Louis (Panera) Bread Co on Chippewa St. at Lansdowne Ave). Today I’m happy to report Panera has stepped up and corrected the situation. Here’s the before:

ABOVE: In February 2012 access to the St. Louis Bread Co. at 6607 Chippewa from the public sidewalk required going up steps.

I contacted and company and met with District Manager Chris Harre onsite on my birthday, February 28th. On May 1st a building permit application was filed with the city to build an accessible ramp at an estimated cost of $5,000.

When I visited the site late last month workers were still finishing up final details.

ABOVE: A switchback ramp was fitted into an area previously planted
ABOVE: The view of the ramp from the west
ABOVE: View from the top of the ramp. The triangular wedge between the upper & lower sections of the ramp will contain plants.
ABOVE: The new ramp is highly visible, says all pedestrians welcome here.

I appreciate that Panera acted quickly once I pointed out the accessibility problem, if only other companies would do the same. Special thanks to District Manager Chris Harre.

— Steve Patterson



Five Guys Adds ADA Accessible Route To Reach Former Blockbuster

Back in March I photographed the lack of an ADA accessible route from the public sidewalk to the Lindell Marketplace building that once contained a Blockbuster video rental store. For years pedestrians have had to walk in the auto driveway, risking getting hit.

ABOVE: In March 2012 the only access to the building was through the automobile driveway.
ABOVE: The metal fence prevented pedestrians from accessing the building at other points that would be safer than the auto driveway.

I was pleasantly surprised months later when Five Guys Burgers and Fries opened in the west end of the former Blockbuster — they’d added an ADA accessible route before opening!

ABOVE: New ADA accessible route to Five Guys Burgers and Fries in part of the former Blockbuster space
ABOVE: Opposite view looking out toward Lindell.

They had to modify the fence, pour concrete in two places and stripe the route. It was the right thing to do, it’s just refreshing to see it done without having to ask.

And yes, I stopped and had lunch there recently.

— Steve Patterson


Most Mobility Scooters Too Long For Public Transit

We’ve all seen television commercials advertising how a mobility scooter can make life easier for adults with mobility issues:


But ever notice they don’t show users on public transit? There’s a reason why, the length of these scooters means they aren’t ADA-compliant and thus have a hard time flitting in transit vehicles (both buses and trains).

Pride is a manufacturer of scooters and power chairs, many of their 3-wheel scooters are 40+ inches long and 4-wheel scooters are 47+ inches long. By contrast, my Jazzy 600 Powerchair, also by Pride, is just 36.5″ long. Why does this matter?

Several times this year I’ve seen others with long scooters trying to travel on the bus. These scooters barely fit on the lift and maneuvering them inside the bus is nearly impossible. Twice now I’ve had to move to give them the extra space to turn around. One wanted seats up on both sides to give him enough room to make a circle, he was visibly upset when the bus driver told him that wasn’t possible since one chair was already on board, my chair.

ABOVE: Mobility scooters exceed the maximum length allowed within ADA-compliant spaces, such as transit buses

Similarly, on light rail they can’t get into the fold-up seat area without blocking the aisle. Turning around is also impossible when trains are crowded.

People are buying these devices not designed for use on public transit or in ADA-compliant bathroom stalls and getting upset when it proves difficult. If you, a friend, or a relative need a device to help with mobility consider the overall length if it’ll be used on public transit.

— Steve Patterson


Chippewa Sidewalk Still Not Passable Nearly Six Months Later

Since I sold my car in April I’ve made two shopping trips to Target on the #11 (Chippewa) MetroBus. In June I spotted sidewalk construction between the bus stop and Hampton, the driver let me off on the west side of Hampton so I wouldn’t be stuck.

In July it looked like the sidewalk was fixed, but it wasn’t.

ABOVE: July 3 2012 the sidewalk remained not passable to my power chair.
ABOVE: View looking east from Hampton after I “drove” through the Walgreen’s parking lot

This was due to a water main break:

The break happened on Tuesday morning in the Northhampton neighborhood. A thin layer of water is covering roadways near the intersection and there is a fear that the water will freeze causing a slick and potentially dangerous situation. (KMOV)

Freeze? Yes, the water main break happened on January 24, 2012! Did someone forget about the sidewalk?

— Steve Patterson