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Minimum width sidewalks are less than optimal

I recently stopped at 7-11 located at 17th & Pine to rent a movie from the RedBox.

As I was standing there a customer came out of the store and needed to get past me, he was using a motorized wheelchair similar to my own wheelchair and the sidewalk was at the minimum width so I had to move to the side so he could pass.  Not a big deal but I’m not the most mobile person in the world.  When you build walkways to the minimum standard you inconvenience pedestrians.

– Steve Patterson


Disabled parking not always closest parking to the door

ABOVE: Webster Groves Community Center

Many, incorrectly, believe that disabled parking is right in front of the door and that those of us with state-issued parking permits always get the best parking.  In many cases we do get prime parking relative to other spaces.  Yesterday was a good example to dispel this myth.

I went to a crowded event at the Webster Groves Community Center.  In the above picture the people in red are walking into the building entrance.  The white car on is closer to the entrance than where I parked at right. I parked in the disabled space closest to the entrance.  Other disabled spaces behind me are closer to the ramp shown on the left but I was lucky to get the space I did — I waited about 10 minutes for it to open up.  Why not just park closer?

There were no closer spaces open but even if there was I couldn’t have parked there anyway. I have the ability to do the steps that would have been required at the main entry so why not park there?  To get in & out of my car I need to open my driver’s door fully.  Sometimes I get a regular space next to say a sidewalk or planter where I can open my door fully but in those cases the curb makes stepping out of the car difficult.  Regular spaces, even those closer to my destination are generally not an option for me or others.

– Steve Patterson


Lingering snow creates accessibility issues

February 25, 2010 Accessibility, Downtown 4 Comments

ABOVE: snow blocking sidewalk on 2/18/2010

Snow presents problems for most everyone but those of us who are disabled the challenges can linger long after the roads are cleared.   When using my wheelchair I typically use the sidewalk shown above to get to Washington Ave.  While the snow was long gone the pile from the adjacent parking lot remained in my way.

ABOVE: Same sidewalk the morning of 2/22/2010
ABOVE: Same sidewalk the morning of 2/22/2010

A few days later it had shrunk in size but I still went another way that is less safe.

ABOVE: February 23, 2010
ABOVE: Same sidewalk on 2/23/2010

I still couldn’t go around, I had to go through. The snow was soft enough finally for me to do so.

I use this side of the street because of issues on the other side.  The first issue is no ramp at the end of the sidewalk.  When this side is blocked I use the other side — riding in the street until I reach the access to that garage:

ABOVE: Garage exit/entry to the Ely Walker building.
ABOVE: Garage exit/entry to the Ely Walker building.

People plowing snow need to understand that sidewalks are not an acceptable place to store snow cleared from parking lots.

– Steve Patterson


TO EXIT: depress red button and push door simultaneously

Leaving a parking garage recently I encountered a security measure I hadn’t faced since my stroke.

But there was the sign, just push the button and the door at the same time.   My left hand isn’t too useful and in my right is my cane.  I often hold the cane with the left while I do things with my right hand.  I ended up leaning against the door handle then pressing the red button with my right to exit onto the sidewalk.  So much in society assumes all are able bodied.

– Steve Patterson


Crown Food Mart on Jefferson has an ADA access route thanks to me

Like so many new buildings in the city/region, the new Crown Food Mart at Jefferson & Clark was being constructed without any connection to the public sidewalk network.  This was the construction site in late September 2009:


The lack of an ADA route is no different than most of their other recent stations. But rather than wait until complete to complain, I decided to see if I could make a difference to change the construction.  I contacted the city’s ADA commissioner and 6th ward Alderman Kacie Starr Triplett.  Ald. Triplett was the first to respond and it wasn’t long before she forwarded me a revised drawing the owner had sent her.

As I had suggested, the solution was to include a ramp at the end of the sidewalk at the front of the station and a bit of concrete between the parking lot and sidewalk.  None of the concrete work had been started so the change was minor.

ABOVE: completed building with ramp to the North
ABOVE: looking North you see the short walk to reach the public sidewalk.

Is this ideal? Hardly.  Ideally the building would be at the corner of the property so pedestrians could easily enter.  The gas islands would be located behind the building, rather than out front.

As you can the building has zero relationship to the street it faces, Jefferson.  The ADA route is to the left of the building connecting pedestrians along Clark.  But anyone approaching the building on foot from Jefferson will face this vast expanse of pavement between them and the business.  Those of foot might be employees at UPS or guests at the hotel across Jefferson & I-64.

I had suggested a sidewalk be run down this side of the parking area and then have it connected to the building’s front walk as done on the other side.  Clearly that didn’t happen.  I got the minimum — by asking beforehand.  I do think if the city asked developers to include a minimum ADA access route so those in wheelchairs have a way to access a business from the public sidewalk they’d do it.  Before the concrete is poured it is no big deal.

I want to have our city codes embrace walkability.  They should require such a route from each street the property borders.  In this case, they would be required to have a sidewalk connecting to Jefferson. Eventually they will realize if the building is closer to both streets the sidewalk is either much shorter or completely unnecessary because the building entrance is directly on the public sidewalk.

– Steve Patterson