13th Street

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== UPDATES ==
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=== 9:00AM May 9, 2014 ===
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[[File:13th 5-9-2014 10-30am.jpg|left |300px]]
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Early AM Friday, St. Louis Streets Department moves 2 of the concrete planters to the southwest corners of 13th and St. Charles. Both planters have DO NOT ENTER signs inside them.
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=== 11:00AM May 9, 2014 ===
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[[File:13th 5-9-2014 11am 1.jpg|left |300px]]
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Regardless of the new concrete planters, commercial vehicle parks along Washington Avenue blocking the entrance to 13th Street.  Motorists still not visually aware of 13th Street being a thruway.
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=== 11:30AM May 9, 2014 ===
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[[File:13th 5-9-2014 11am 2.jpg|left |300px]]
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And yet another commercial vehicle parks at St. Charles street blocking the exit from 13th Street. Motorists not visually aware of 13th Street being a thruway.
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== IMMEDIATE REQUEST ==  
== IMMEDIATE REQUEST ==  

Revision as of 17:34, 9 May 2014

Contents

BACKGROUND

Google Map of Washington Avenue and 13th Streets.

On April 30th, 2014 13th Street between Washington Avenue and St. Charles Avenue which looked like this:



Became this:


Raised street boxes and concrete planters were completely removed during the week of April 28th. Many of us local St. Louis downtown residents began asking about the changes, trying to find out more. Just a few weeks ago, I attended my Neighborhood Watch meeting and never heard a single mention about 13th Street re-opening. I also asked those who attended our new Downtown Neighborhood Association happy hour if they had heard anything. The answers were all the same, "no." I am not even sure we are against opening up 13th Street to vehicles; however, we are sure that this current version and design of 13th Street is too confusing and misleading to both pedestrians and motorists. Lack of signage doesn't help. St. Charles Avenue is already a narrow street that runs parallel to Washington Avenue, primarily used for deliveries to the Washington Avenue bars, restaurants and other retail businesses. St.Charles Avenue also serves as a vital entry for residents to access their parking garages.

Detailed Map of Washington Avenue and 13th Streets.

I began calling and emailing everyone I knew at City Hall, my 5th Ward Alderwoman Tammika Hubbard and the St. Louis Streets Department. After the first weekend for the new open-for-traffic 13th Street, it was actually closed for a festival on Washington Avenue. Porta-Potties, valet parking and deliveries became the new norm for 13th Street. On May 5 and May 6, several residents in the area met and compared photos, videos and stories. I continued to search for the master plan for 13th Street. Steve Runde at the City Streets Department asked to see all the photos I took and he suggested I contact the Partnership for Downtown. That lead me to Ken Gabel who said he'd call me back after some fact finding. He too was interested in the photos from the first weekend. When neither Gabel nor Runde called me back, I reached out again to both of them. That prompted a phone call from Doug Woodruff, the Partnership for Downtown CEO. In summary, Woodruff didn't think he moved too quickly on opening up 13th Street; nor did he think he needed to ask the residents for input. (Hmmm, Partnerships for Downtown has the word partnership in the organization's title.) Doug felt like opening up 13th Street was the best option in front of them. (Still not totally sure who them are.) When I asked about the other options, he didn't elaborate. When I pressed Doug on the issues around safety, he felt like the residents should give it a try and see how it goes. I suggested that experimenting with pedestrians and vehicles isn't an excellent strategy. We ended our phone conversation and Woodruff told me to tell the residents to focus our complaints with the new Downtown Neighborhood Association. I was optimistic that Woodruff did say he would keep an eye on the issues around safety but basically wanted off the phone call.

The longer I sat at 13th Street and Washington Avenue, the more I witnessed how dangerous 13th Street is today with the new car traffic. Poor design and non-existent visual cues lead me to understand why people keep driving, parking and backing down the wrong way on 13th Street:

  • the lack of sidewalks;
  • the lack of curbs;
  • the lack of a street;
  • the lack of signage;
  • the confusing signage;
  • the implied traffic flow and
  • all the streets around this part of downtown makes maneuvering very dangerous for the typical visitor or resident living or working near Lucas Park, Sen Thai, Lafayette Preparatory Academy and the new Central Library.


Photo Documentation


Video Documentation

{{#ev:youtube|ilDB8OpaXXo}}


UPDATES

9:00AM May 9, 2014

Early AM Friday, St. Louis Streets Department moves 2 of the concrete planters to the southwest corners of 13th and St. Charles. Both planters have DO NOT ENTER signs inside them.

11:00AM May 9, 2014

Regardless of the new concrete planters, commercial vehicle parks along Washington Avenue blocking the entrance to 13th Street. Motorists still not visually aware of 13th Street being a thruway.

11:30AM May 9, 2014

And yet another commercial vehicle parks at St. Charles street blocking the exit from 13th Street. Motorists not visually aware of 13th Street being a thruway.

IMMEDIATE REQUEST

The residents, businesses, students and visitors impacted by the new 13th Street want to see a rollback on closing 13th Street until a Complete Streets strategy is used. The plan should fit the needs of everyone working, living and visiting the Washington Avenue community. We understand that before the plan is developed (for reasons of safety along Washington Avenue or during peak traffic) the St. Louis Police can open 13th Street to vehicle traffic.

What is a Complete Streets policy?

In 2010, St. Louis adopted and St. Louis' Mayor Slay signs 'Complete Streets' bill, with promise of bikeable, walkable city. St. Louis City needs to stand behind these Complete Streets better practices when developing an area like 13th Street and Washington Avenue. It’s Official in the Gateway City.

Downtown Next: 2020 Vision For Downtown St. Louis: Map

Complete Streets policies formalize a community’s goal to have streets that are safe for all types of users of all ages and abilities. Policies direct decision-makers to consistently fund, plan for, design, construct, operate and maintain community streets to accommodate all anticipated users, including people walking, bicycling, taking public transportation and driving cars as well as commercial vehicles. Best Complete Streets Policies of 2013.

A Complete Streets policy must begin with an understanding that people who travel by foot or on bicycle are legitimate users of the transportation system and equally deserving of safe facilities to accommodate their travel. No policy is a Complete Streets policy without a clear statement affirming this fact, and it is therefore a requirement to include both modes – walking and bicycling.

A safe walking and bicycling environment is essential to improving public transportation. Explicitly stating intention to provide for public transportation customers and transit vehicles can create new partnerships and a transportation network that encourages healthy, active travel and reduces congestion. Complete Streets Local Policy Workbook.

The ideal result of a Complete Streets policy is that all transportation improvements are viewed as opportunities to create safer, more accessible streets for all users. A strong Complete Streets policy will integrate Complete Streets planning into all projects beyond new construction and reconstruction, and direct application of a Complete Streets approach to rehabilitation, repair, major maintenance, and operations work. Complete Streets Local Policy Workbook.

Sidewalk Design Criteria

A sidewalk is designed to meet a variety of characteristics that have a direct impact on usability, such as grade, cross slope, width, surface type, etc. Even mildly difficult features in combination can make a sidewalk hard to access for someone with a disability. Sidewalk design criteria are based on providing access to all pedestrian users to the maximum extent feasible. This policy is in accordance with federal standards set out by the US Department of Justice, based on recommendations of the US Access Board. Sidewalk Design Criteria by MODOT.


CONSEQUENCES

Between 2000 and 2009, 802 people were killed while walking in Missouri. 121 of those deaths occurred in St. Louis City. This is a share of the more than 47,700 Americans who died on our streets and roads, whether walking to school, approaching a bus stop, or strolling to the grocery store. Children, older Americans, and racial and ethnic minorities were killed in disproportionate numbers. An overwhelming proportion of these deaths share a common thread: they occurred along “arterial” roadways that were dangerous by design, streets engineered for speeding cars with little or no provision for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on bicycles. Dangerous by Design 2011: Missouri published by Transportation for America.

Great streets develop collaboratively by combining local knowledge with technical skills. People who live, work, and play in a place must work with a design team throughout a planning process. In doing so, the community develops a sense of ownership and an expectation to effect change. All involved must be well prepared to evaluate the work and weigh competing issues. The process is equally important as the final plan. Great Streets Initiative by East-West Gateway Council of Governments.


RESOURCES

The best resources can be found in St. Louis' incredible business and civic leaders. The Partnership for Downtown has already done extensive research and reported on this very subject of supporting both pedestrian and vehicle modes of transportation. A “Complete Street” is one that accommodates all modes. Downtown Next: 2020 Vision For Downtown St. Louis.

Making Downtown Accessible and Easy to Get Around. Downtown Next: 2020 Vision For Downtown St. Louis.

Detailed Map: St. Charles and 13th Streets are designated for Downtown Streetscape.

Strive for walkability by implementing accessible pedestrian and bike amenities and activating the street level and Develop and promote a Downtown circulator. Downtown Next: 2020 Vision For Downtown St. Louis.

Downtown Now! Streetscape Design Guidelines The following Streetscape Design Guidelines are intended to define a qualitative standard for the pedestrian environment of Downtown St. Louis, within the boundaries of the Downtown Saint Louis Partnership Inc., Community Improvement District (CID).

Enhancing The Pedestrian Environment

Qualities of "Pedestrian Friendly" Streets: Good street environments come in many forms. Some are distinguished for their commercial bustle, others by their wide sidewalks, others still by the quality of the architecture that frames them. Regardless of their shape and size, most good streets obtain their "friendliness" from three conditions: a safe and comfortable environment; a sense of human scale, or intimacy; and a distinctive character, or a sense of identity.

  • Street trees should be placed at curbside on all streets, spaced 20 to 40 feet depending on underground vaults and utilities.
  • Accessible curb ramps, ADA approved, should be placed at all intersection crosswalks and driveway curb cuts.

Intimacy

"Intimacy" means the scale and collection of streetscape elements, that directly support pedestrian life (as opposed to vehicular movement). The pedestrian realm is the sidewalk, and for sidewalks to be intimate they need to function like a "bubble" calibrated for human activity. Where sidewalks abut moving traffic, for example, a safety barrier, such as a row of bollards, is desirable where the street and sidewalk meet. Where there is no building wall and sidewalks abut parking lots or open land, some form of screening (trees, living fences) is desirable. And where street lighting is provided by single fixtures (such as the cobra-heads that dot much of the CID), supplementary sidewalk-scale lighting is desirable. Street furniture (benches, waste receptacles, bicycle racks, etc.) also contributes to making the sidewalks more intimate for pedestrians.

  • A continuous, 4-foot wide paving band should be considered at curbside to further define the sidewalk zone. This band should also serve to expand the planting domain of street trees.
  • Sidewalk crosswalk areas should be enhanced with special paving, incorporating accessible curb ramps and crossing signals.

Creating A St. Louis Pedestrian Environment

An integral part of a streetscape is its image, what it says about a place and its community. It is therefore an integral part of these guidelines, to encourage the creation of a streetscape aesthetic that reinforces unique aspects of the city􏰈s traditions, culture and hopes for the future. The following is a brief discussion of the precedents and current forces that have inspired the streetscape standards that appear later in this report.

  • Improve the public image of the District through comprehensive streetscape improvements and special programs.
  • Long-term streetscape improvements to all streets within the Downtown Core.
  • Defining new parks and plazas that interconnect to the entire Downtown Open Space system through a system of pedestrian streets.

Downtown Next: 2020 Vision For Downtown St. Louis.


SUPPORT

“A livable community is a community where if people don’t want an automobile, they don’t have to have one; a community where you can walk to work, your doctor’s appointment, pharmacy or grocery store. Or you could take light-rail, a bus or ride a bike.” — US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood Downtown Next: 2020 Vision For Downtown St. Louis.
“There are two kinds of metro areas: those that offer walkable alternatives and those that don’t – and those that don’t will be left behind.” --Chris Leinberger Metropolitan Land Strategist & Developer Downtown Next: 2020 Vision For Downtown St. Louis.
“Some of the ‘hot’ cities that attract young people are Austin and Portland. In reality, these cities are no better than St. Louis, but they have good public transit, and cyclists and pedestrians are separated from the autos.” — Influencer Interview Downtown Next: 2020 Vision For Downtown St. Louis.
“Downtown…is not viewed as walkable. It lacks paths, signs, street life and people. People are afraid of walking when they can’t see the life further down the street.” — Influencer Interview Downtown Next: 2020 Vision For Downtown St. Louis.
“Develop a positive personality for Downtown.” — Survey Respondent Downtown Next: 2020 Vision For Downtown St. Louis.
Vibrant urban neighborhoods rely upon a variety of transportation modes including bicycle, pedestrian and transit. Downtown Next: 2020 Vision For Downtown St. Louis.

Phase II: Understanding of the Physical Setting and Market Opportunities.


WASHINGTON AVENUE IN THE NEWS

Washington Avenue has been in the news over the past decade. Traffic problems, underage drinking, theft, panhandling, crime and shootings are problems facing us, but many U.S. cities. We don't want people to use these past and present issues to cloud the strategy around building a safe 13th Street.

St. Louis authorities seek solutions for Washington Avenue.

Washington Avenue to be closed to traffic on weekend nights.

WHO

My name is Ed Reggi, a resident of beautiful downtown St. Louis for nearly 10 years. When I first moved to St. Louis back in the early 1990's, I was a college student working on Washington Avenue as a part-time barback for what was then mostly an underground hodge podge of alternative bars and gay dance clubs. It was an amazing time to witness a city awakening from its sleep. Even though I returned back home to Brooklyn, I eventually returned to the Gateway City.

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