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Family Dollar Misses The Walkability Mark

The Family Dollar store at 6000 Natural Bridge was built in 2006.

ABOVE: Bus stop near the Family Dollar at 6000 Natural Bridge

I’ve stopped by twice in the last two weeks and both times I spotted customers who were pedestrians.  During the week there were more pedestrian customers than driving customers, the opposite was true yesterday.  Family Dollar caters to a lower income crowd, those who are often transit dependent. Yet, they don’t make it easy for their own customers who arrive on foot.

img_3079Family Dollar replaced the public sidewalk along Natural Bridge — 300 feet along the property line. That is a good start, but just 20 more feet of sidewalk would have enabled pedestrians to get from the public sidewalk to the private walk in front of the door without having to walk through grass or mud.

img_2998Pedestrians have so little value in St. Louis that a business with many pedestrian customers can just ignore how they come and go. St. Louis needs to mandate that new buildings be built with connections from public sidewalk to main entrance. Also, new occupancy of existing buildings should also require a pedestrian connection. If a public sidewalk exists, businesses should be required to connect to it. Period!

ABOVE: Google's Streetview camera caught pedestrians at the Family Dollar, click to view

Pedestrian connections should be a given in the city, especially when tax incentives are given for the development!

ABOVE: City records show taxes are only being paid on the value before the new building was built. Click to view larger image.

Ordinance 67014. sponsored by 22nd Ward Ald, Jeffrey Boyd, covers lots of strings for the redevelopment of the property but the basic need of walking from the public sidewalk to the front door of the business establishment just wasn’t important enough I guess.  The above tax info can be found at Geo St. Louis.

ABOVE: Mud and standing water separate the private walk from the public sidewalk just 20 feet away.

I have contacted Family Dollar to see about them connecting to the public sidewalk, hopefully they will be receptive.

– Steve Patterson


South Grand Will Be Much Improved

ABOVE: No curb ramp at end of crosswalk at Grand & Arsenal

Work on the new streetscape for South Grand has started.  The new design will address shortcomings of the current streetscape.  Very little of the new work is complete but what I’ve seen so far looks great.  Can’t wait to visit in my wheelchair, once finished, to do a full review.

– Steve Patterson


Disabled Get The Good Parking

A popular misconception is the disabled get primo parking.

ABOVE: Disabled parking at Quik Trip locations is the farthest parking from the building entry
ABOVE: Disabled parking at Quik Trip locations is the farthest parking from the building entry

Often we do, but other times the location of the wider space and ramp are far from the entrance.

– Steve Patterson


Another Reason Corner Curb Ramps Don’t Work Well

Pedestrians generally walk in a straight line, stepping over curbs as necessary to keep going in the same direction.

People pushing strollers, or using wheelchairs, have to go not in a straight line, but where the curb ramp is placed. Ideally ramps would be located where we could also continue in a straight line.

But most St. Louis intersections place curb ramps, not in the natural line of travel, but at the apex of the corner. On a standard intersection of two streets at a 90° angle the corner ramp does save money by requiring fewer ramps – four rather than eight.  The problem however, is the corner ramp has become the local default, even when it makes no sense to do so.

ABOVE: curb ramps at a downtown hotel drive direct you into the snow rather than a straight line

The example above is one where placing the curb ramps at the corners makes no sense at all. There is no opportunity to cross Washington Ave from either curb, the only direction to travel is straight ahead.  Most of the year it is just annoying that I’m forced nearly into the nearby vehicle lane.  When there is snow in the way I’m forced to go off the edge of the ramp and through some of the snow.

At other intersections I neatly got stuck because my line of travel was beyond the worn path of able bodied pedestrians.  The corner ramp is marginally acceptable when you have two crosswalks meeting at a single point.  The above ramps should have been constructed to permit a straight line of travel.  The cost would have been the same, maybe even less because a ramp is less complex in a straight curb as opposed to on a corner.

– Steve Patterson


Remembering The “Revolutionary” Max Starkloff

ABOVE: a large crowd of people filled the ballrooms at the SLU Busch Student Center for Max Starkloff's visitation
ABOVE: a large crowd of people filled the ballrooms at the SLU Busch Student Center for Max Starkloff's visitation

On Tuesday I attended the visitation for Max Starkloff.

Max Starkloff lived in a nursing home on a hill outside St. Louis from the time he was 26 until he turned 38. The day after he moved out, he did something he knew he couldn’t do and stay in a nursing home: He got married.  (NPR – recommended)

I forgot that my friend & Tower Grove East resident, Christian Saller, is the nephew of Starkloff. The following were his remarks at the funeral Mass:

It’s impossible to summarize anyone you love in 2 or 3 minutes. In the case of my Uncle Max, it is especially difficult to adequately express my admiration for his character and extraordinary understanding.

He recently objected to being characterized as a “super hero”, but it’s difficult to avoid the term when speaking of a man whose dedication and tenacity were heroic.

From the time I was a small child, I always saw my Uncle Max as a person with a strength and dignity all his own. Like other truly strong people, he was kind and generously shared his spirit. When I looked at his paintings I saw him: bold, alive, a formidable force.

He has also been referred to as an activist, but this is as insufficient as any other label. I think a better term for his life and legacy is revolutionary. Activists may add a lot to a discussion, but revolutionaries start the conversation and exert fundamental change. My Uncle Max’s cultural revolution continues.

His work and advocacy were not a bid for accommodation or sympathy, but for recognition that a society that limits opportunity and justice for any of its members ultimately denies itself the full measure of its own potential. He made people understand that. Like other transformational leaders, he made his life a lasting gift we can never imagine not having.

I never knew he spent 12 years in a nursing home before he turned 38 years old!  It was the times, thankfully they have changed.  Instead of spending the next 35 years there he had a wife, three kids, and a career – a normal life basically.

Something like 80% of those who are disabled were not born disabled.  Something happened.  For Max Starkloff it was an accident at age 21 when he crashed his Austin Healey.  Each of you will know someone in your lifetime that will become disabled. Everyday I’m grateful for the work of Max & Colleen Starkloff.

Thank you Christian for sharing your remarks.

– Steve Patterson