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“Lingering Not Loitering” – Dan Burden


ABOVE: Dan Burden (right) leads a "walking audit" on Delmar just west of Union. Photo credit: Lou Tobian/AARP

“Lingering Not Loitering” was the phrase I heard most often from walkability expert Dan Burden when he visited St. Louis recently, his response to University City attempting to keep pedestrians moving (story). I agree, we need more pedestrians lingering on our sidewalks.  Thankfully University City official voted down this controversial bill yesterday (story).

So who is this expert?

He Takes Back the Streets for Walking

Burden, 58, puts bloated thoroughfares on what he calls a “road diet.” In cities as large as Las Vegas, Toronto and Seattle and hamlets as small as Sammamish, Wash., he has trimmed lanes and filled the space with bike routes or a grassy buffer between the asphalt and the sidewalk to ease walkers’ stress. Of course, motorists tend to react to Burden as they might to a jackknifed manure spreader directly in their path. “They say ,’We already have a traffic problem,'” says Burden, “‘and now you want to take lanes away?'”

That’s exactly what he wants to do. But Burden isn’t an autocrat. His preternatural calm — he was a National Geographic photographer before founding Walkable in 1996 — sets people at ease. He knows that slimmer roads are “leaner, safer and more efficient,” and that they take some of the stress off drivers too. “We tend not to like open, scary places, and we try to get through them quicker. Somehow the canopy effect of tree-lined streets slows traffic.” Burden can’t eliminate road rage. But for some drivers, riders and pedestrians across the country, he can create road repose. (Time Magazine)

Burden is now the Executive Director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.

ABOVE: 26th Ward alderman Frank Williamson (left) with Dan Burden (right) pointing out an issue to everyone.

I joined Burden and residents on the two walking audits conducted on Tuesday May 24th. The starting point for both was ConnectCare located at 5535 Delmar Blvd.  That morning we went north on Belt Ave, west on Cates Ave, south on the Ruth Porter Mall and east on Delmar back to ConnectCare.

ABOVE: St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay (center) joined for part of the morning walk. Here we are on Belt Ave across from Ivory Perry Park.

So what were his comments on the audits and the presentation the night before?

  • Design standards dictate how roads are designed, but within the same standards you can get very different results. Most often we get roads that create poor pedestrian environments  — excessively wide lanes with the resulting fast traffic.  But the design standards also allow for roads that work well for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists alike.
  • Lanes are often too wide – say 12ft rather than 10ft.
  • Paint is cheap, a right stripe to separate the  outside lane from the parking lane is a cost effective way to slow traffic.
  • Roads that have had diets often still move as many cars as before.
  • “bulbs” at corners can help cut the distance pedestrians must walk to cross a road in half.
  • On-street parking is good because it slows traffic.
  • Buildings must watch over sidewalks so pedestrians feel safe.

Here is an excellent video featuring Dan Burden:


It was a pleasure meeting him and his staff, it has inspired me to do more.

– Steve Patterson


Cafe Tables Forcing Pedestrians Into Sidewalk Furnishing Zone

The steps of the Merchandise Mart building on Washington Ave between 10th & 11th create two points where the sidewalk gets restricted.  Otherwise there is room for pedestrians in the main part of the sidewalk with the outer “furnishing zone” left for bike racks and trees. Let’s look at how sidewalks are zoned:

Streetside Zones and Buffering

This chapter addresses the design of sidewalks and the buffers between sidewalks, moving traffic, parking and/or other traveled-way elements. The streetside consists of the following four distinct functional zones:

1. Edge zone—the area between the face of curb and the furnishing zone that provides the minimum necessary separation between objects and activities in the streetside and vehicles in the traveled way;

2. Furnishings zone—the area of the streetside that provides a buffer between pedestrians and vehicles, which contains landscaping, public street furniture, transit stops, public signage, utilities and so forth;

3. Throughway zone—the walking zone that must remain clear, both horizontally and vertically, for the movement of pedestrians. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) establishes a minimum width for the throughway zone; and

4. Frontage zone—the distance between the throughway and the building front or private property line that is used to buffer pedestrians from window shoppers, appurtenances and doorways. It contains private street furniture, private signage, merchandise displays and so forth and can also be used for street cafes. This zone is sometimes referred to as the “shy” zone.

The new restaurant Prime 1000 has changed the situation on the east end of the 1000 block of Washington Ave.

Tables and chairs now fill the sidewalk space, forcing pedestrians into the furnishing zone area.  If anyone were to use the bike racks the sidewalk would not be passable.

I’m a huge fan of sidewalk dining but this doesn’t work.  Perhaps one of the bike racks should be moved to the east of the steps to the restaurant, and the other just removed or relocated to another block or on 10th?

The other issue is the tables and chairs used  – they are too high for anyone seated in a wheelchair.  At least one regular height table should be available for disabled customers to be able to enjoy outside seating.  Lucas Park Grille & Flannery’s, both further west, also have high tables only.

– Steve Patterson


Chouteau Crossing Will Have Minimum Required Pedestrian Access Route

ABOVE: Chouteau Crossing

Chouteau Crossing is a green renovation of an old industrial structure at 2301 Chouteau Ave:

“Chouteau Crossing features wind turbines, geothermal heating and cooling, and a graywater system that handles the irrigation. The parking lots are illuminated by power stored from the rooftop PV array. It will be completed at the end of 2009, and 33,000 square feet have been taken already for lab space. The project is being developed by Green Street Properties.” (Jetson Green)

As I saw the work progress at the site I was concerned if provisions had been made for pedestrian access from Chouteau as all too often they are not (example).  My concern is twofold, 1) accessibility for disabled pedestrians and 2) increasing the walkability of the city for all.

ABOVE: Aerial of site during construction; image via Google Maps

St. Louis zoning and building codes don’t require any connection to the adjacent public sidewalk which is a horrible oversight on the part of the Board of Aldermen.  Walkable communities are appealing to most everyone, including those who always drive.  The city is naturally the most walkable part of the region based on the 19th century street grid, transit service and population density.  Shouldn’t we require new & renovated buildings to connect to the public sidewalk?

So I looked up Chouteau Crossing’s website to try to determine if a pedestrian route was planned.  I thought I saw a possibility but the site plan was so tiny I couldn’t be sure. I made an email inquiry to developer Green Street Properties.  I got a quick response from VP Brian Pratt saying they weren’t sure but they would check with their architect, Trenor Architects. A few days later I had my answer  – yes — and a detailed drawing of the route.

ABOVE: lowered curb is where curb ramp at Chouteau Crossing will be located

I’m glad one pedestrian access route has been planned, but this development is on a large site bounded by three public streets, has four auto entrances (three on Chouteau) and multiple tenant entrances. I’d like to see the zoning or building code require a pedestrian route from each public street and equal to the number of auto drives provided.

– Steve Patterson


Curb Ramps Still Missing in Key Locations 20 Years After the ADA

ABOVE: missing curb at Lafayette Ave & Tower Grove Ave made this intersection passable

Last week I was at Tower Grove Ave & McRee Ave for a ground breaking when I left in my power chair I had to head south a few blocks to Tower Grove Ave & Shaw to catch the bus.  At Tower Grove Ave & Lafayette Ave I encountered the above situation, no curb ramp into the sidewalk.

All the rest of the intersections had curb ramps, but all it takes is one missing to make an entire stretch impassible.  Thankfully a section of curb was missing, allowing me to pass by.  At Thurman Ave pieces of curb were also missing, allowing me to pass through there as well.

– Steve Patterson


Railings on ADA Ramps Aren’t Bike Racks

ABOVE: Bike locked to railing on ADA ramp at the Chase Park Plaza
ABOVE: Bike locked to railing on ADA ramp at the Chase Park Plaza

I’m not upset with the owner of this bike, they had nowhere else to safely secure their vehicle.  It is the lack of bike parking at the Chase Park Plaza that upsets me.

Most likely a “dish drainer” bike rack is stuffed in a dark corner of the parking garage, completely out of sight to the transportation cyclist. I was able to get past this bike in my power chair, but I’ve encountered times where I had less room.  But the continuous railings are there for a reason, so someone can make their way along the ramp while always holding the railing.  Break the railing with a bike and suddenly you can present a major problem for someone that needs to hold the railing.

– Steve Patterson