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Walkability Impacts Number of Pedestrians Using Sidewalks & Transit

The form our buildings take has a direct connection to the number of pedestrians on the sidewalk: streats lined with urban buildings will see more pedestrians than those with anti-urban buildings (read: suburban). Transit riders are pedestrians on part of their journey, but many of us have no choice but to be pedestrians in unfriendly places where few pedestrians are spotted. On a recent ride on a packed #95 (Kingshighway) MetroBus this became clear.

ABOVE: Car storage separates pedestrians at the bus stop from numerous businesses.
ABOVE: The able-bodied can get inside but not everyone can
ABOVE: Eventually this building will get reused or replaced, but will pedestrians have access?

We don’t design buildings to be used by pedestrians. Sure, some will say there are no pedestrians so why should we? I say there are few pedestrians in many places because that is the result of decades of anti-urban policy.

 – Steve Patterson


River City Casino Has Surprisingly Good Pedestrian Access Route

River City Casino, located in south St. Louis County, opened for business two years ago yesterday. I’d visited the site in 2010 shortly after it opened but last week I visited again — this time as a pedestrian. I knew from my prior visit in my car they’d done a good job with sidewalks but I wanted to experience it first hand.

The #40 Broadway MetroBus I took ends at the Catalan Loop in far south St. Louis. According to Google Maps, the walk to the casino from the transit center is one mile. Many places I seek to visit using my power chair can’t manage to connect just 50 feet to the door so I was still a bit skeptical.

ABOVE: Looking north at the Catalan Loop MetroBus transit center in south St. Louis
ABOVE: Looking south on Broadway, not a pedestrian's paradise
ABOVE: Bridge over the River des Peres is fairly new and adequate
ABOVE: After crossing the bridge you are in St. Louis County and facing River City Casino Boulevard, a private road east of Broadway
ABOVE: Only the south side of River City Casino Boulevard has a pedestrian route
ABOVE: The road becomes a bridge over railroad tracks and industrial land
ABOVE: Pedestrians are directed in such a way they are facing the main entrance
ABOVE: Crosswalks are a different material but the visually impaired might have issues since they blend with the adjacent pavement
ABOVE: The path leads the pedestrian, and motorists from parking, right where to go
ABOVE: From the main entrance looking north to bridge where we came, a one mile journey
ABOVE: I didn't see any bike parking anywhere.
ABOVE: North of River City Casino Blvd is overflow parking and a pedestrian route exists for those who park here to walk safely all the way to the entrance
ABOVE: Navigating the entire site was good, even from the far south edge of the site

Overall I was highly impressed by what could have been a pedestrian’s nightmare, like Loughborough Commons. Good pedestrian circulation, just like vehicular circulation, doesn’t happen by accident. Someone made pedestrian access a high priority. Perhaps River City’s owner, Pinnacle Entertainment, was sued because of poor ADA access at another location? Or the professional design firm(s) included it as a design priority? Or St. Louis County required River City to plan for pedestrians in addition to cars? However it came to be, this shows good pedestrian access is possible when planned in advance. You can view an aerial image here.

Hopefully the pedestrian network will serve them well as they expand this year:

Construction works are scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2012 with an expected completion in the second half of 2013. The new expansion at the Missouri casino will add a 200-room hotel, a 10,000 square-foot multi-purpose event center and a covered parking structure with capacity for approximately 1,700 vehicles. Additionally, the $82 million project will create nearly 100 permanent jobs and 350 construction-related jobs. (Source)

I’ll return next year after the new work is completed to see if hotel guests can walk to/from the casino via sidewalks.

– Steve Patterson


New Driveway Makes Sidewalk Non-ADA Compliant (Updated)

The former Burger King restaurant at 7th/Park/Broadway is gone, nobody fights to save an old suburban prototype fast food chain.

ABOVE: Aerial image of the Burger King before being razed, click image to view in Google Maps

Hardly a pedestrian paradise but sidewalks were continuous around the property boundaries. I’ve been watching the site since the Burger King closed. Last year work began on the site, passing by on the #30 MetroBus I’ve snapped pictures.

ABOVE: Site after the Burger King was cleared last year
ABOVE: The company to the north has built a bare concrete windowless warehouse on seen on Tuesday.

Beautiful it isn’t but something else caught my eye as the bus went south on Broadway.

ABOVE: New driveway to Park bisects the public sidewalk without ADA ramps.

Really? I’d like to slap the person(s) that poured those concrete curbs without making provisions for wheelchairs. The inspectors also deserve a slap since this work is in the public right-of-way.

I’m sending this post to Clean the Uniform and people at city hall.

Update 3/1/2012 @ 11am:

This will get fixed as part of a project titled 8496 BROADWAY & 7TH STREET IMPROVEMENTS (PARK AVENUE TO I-55 OVERPASSS),FEDERAL PROJECT STP-5422(612), ST. LOUIS, MO : that will have a pre-construction conference on March 7th. Still, this shows clear lack of oversight on the part of inspectors to allow something like this to get built in the first place.

 – Steve Patterson


Poor Pedestrian Accessibly at Saint Louis (Panera) Bread Co on Chippewa St. at Lansdowne Ave

The comments on a recent post brought up the issue of poor pedestrian accessibility at the Saint Louis Bread Co on Chippewa St at Lansdowne Ave and the fact they added a drive-thru to the existing location last year at a cost of $125,000 (per city records).

ABOVE: Recently added drive-thru lane at the Saint Louis Bread Co at 6607 Chippewa, click image to view aerial in Google Maps

The building at 6607 Chippewa was built in 1974 but became the present Saint Louis Bread Co after a major remodel in 2000, a decade after President George H.W. Bush signed the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. Like most places in this part of town, most customers arrive by private automobile, that’s how I arrived earlier this month.

ABOVE: Easy access from disabled parking, my car is the vehicle on the left

The location is in the Lindenwood Park neighborhood and across the street from the St. Louis Hills neighborhood.  Both neighborhoods include many people who walk recreationally. The Saint Louis Bread Co likely has a fair number of employees that arrive as pedestrians via MetroBus (#10 or #30).

ABOVE: Accessibility in the public right-of-way is good with ramps, crosswalks and signals to assist crossing Chippewa St

Public sidewalks and public transportation is equality important with respect to accessible route:

4.3.2 Location.

(1) At least one accessible route within the boundary of the site shall be provided from public transportation stops, accessible parking, and accessible passenger loading zones, and public streets or sidewalks to the accessible building entrance they serve. The accessible route shall, to the maximum extent feasible, coincide with the route for the general public. (Source: ADA Accessibility Guidelines)

They are good on the route from accessible parking but they fail to provide a route from “public transportation stops…and public streets or sidewalks.”  There is no “or” in guideline, it’s clear a route must be provided for all. Since most public transportation stops happen in the public right-of-way you cover access from a public sidewalk you’ve got transportation covered as well.

ABOVE: The only pedestrian entry point is a stair on the SW corner of the building
ABOVE: The stair doesn't meet the ADA guidelines regarding railing design, click image to read guidelines

The stair as numerous issues, the railings don’t extend beyond the last step. One addition step exists beyond the stair and it does’t have a railing.

ABOVE: A switchback ramp should have been constructed in the above space in 2000, click image for ramp guidelines

In 2000 and in 2011 they made substantial alterations to the property yet they failed to correct the lack of a proper pedestrian access route. I will follow this until a pedestrian access route is finally provided.

– Steve Patterson


Pedestrian Access Still an Afterthought at Loughborough Commons

By November 2008 the first of four outparcels at Loughborough Commons was finished — a Burger King.

ABOVE; Burger King at Loughborough Commons in November 2008

No sidewalk was built to provide access to the two parcels to the east. Granted, at the time, the parcel to the west wasn’t built upon so the connection to the sidewalk system I fought for in 2005-06. Still it is clear the engineers that planned Loughborough Commons had no provisions for pedestrian access.

The lot to the west now was a Fifth Third Bank, it was under construction a year ago. During construction I raised the issue of pedestrian access. When it opened it did have an access route past the drive thru lanes to the front door facing Loughborhough.

ABOVE: Pedestrian access route to Fifth Third Bank.

When the bank opened pedestrians had a way to do their banking but not a way to eat at Burger King, not necessarily a bad thing I suppose. Once construction began on the parcel to the east they suddenly realized they needed to correct the earlier lack of sidewalk at Burger King.

ABOVE: Newly added sidewalk in front of Burger King should have been built in 2008 but wasn't

Yesterday I took the #70 Grand MetroBus to Loughborough Commons to buy something at Lowe’s. While there I checked out the changes since my last visit. This was my first time there in my wheelchair. View Loughborough Commons in Google Maps here.

ABOVE: Looking west from the far east parcel where a building is under construction now

Crosswalk stripes are still needed at the auto drives to Fifth Third Bank and Burger King. After I took the above picture I looked to my left and the last remaining out parcel. At some point they expect to connect it to this sidewalk, right?

ABOVE: Looking south from the third parcel

They’ve already poured the curb with no provision for an accessible route to the last unbuilt parcel to the south. Talk about poor planning! When that lots sells this work will need to be changed, potentially interrupting this business.

Loughborough Commons is far better than it would have been had I not pushed the issue as it was being built. Still, problems exist that I will elaborate on in future posts. This shows what an afterthought pedestrian access really is. The civil engineers should be embarrassed.

– Steve Patterson