The new riverfront trail near the Arch

Almost Perfect: The New Bike Path Along Leonor K Sullivan Blvd

Progress continues on the reconstruction of Leonor K Sullivan Blvd. Major construction has been completed on the southern half of the street from the Arch to Chouteau Ave. Flooding over the summer stopped construction on the northern half to Cole St for about 2 months and the project is now slated for completion by the end of the year.

Included as part of the reconstruction of Leonor K Sullivan Blvd is a two-way bike path on the east side of the street. The path will extend 1.5 miles end to end and will serve as excellent way to visit the riverfront or bypass downtown.

The best part of the new path is that it’s not another bike lane, rather it’s physically separated from the road by about 5 ft. And thanks to the fact that it parallels the riverfront, there’s no need to stop along the entire length of the path as there are no cross streets, traffic lights, or stop signs along the way. In short, the path is close to ideal.

The only aspect of the bike path that is imperfect are the crossings across the access roads to the riverfront parking. As indicated by signs on the side of the road, cars are supposed to yield to bicyclists and pedestrians. However, there are no pavement markings for cars—yield triangles or zebra stripes—only sidewalk curb ramps and a continuation of the concrete road surface that visually imply pedestrians must yield to cars.

Riverfront trail Riverfront trail with continuous bike trail
Above: Access to riverfront parking cuts through the trail and sidewalk.
Below: How access could have looked with better prioritization for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Ideally, the bike path and sidewalk would be continous, raised, and visually distinct across the parking lot access road. Almost as good would be zebra striping for the sidewalk and green paint for the bike path.

Bike Lanes on Tower Grove Ave Scrapped in Favor of More Auto Traffic

Bicyclists on Tower Grove Ave
// Matthew Wyczalkowski

Tower Grove Avenue was slated to get buffered bike lanes as part of Bike St. Louis Phase III. However, future reconstruction of the Kingshighway viaduct south of I-44 has thrown a monkey wrench into the proposal. Matthew Wyczalkowski of SafeTGA tells the story.

We’ve recently learned that traffic engineers are insisting on opening up two lanes for cars in each direction along Tower Grove Avenue to maximize the volume of traffic which can flow through it. They are looking to get rid of on-street parking and to delay any bike infrastructure projects until after the Kingshighway bridge is complete in Fall 2016 or later. We have heard from people closely involved in the project that Phase 3 buffered bike lanes are on hold indefinitely on Tower Grove Avenue.

Incentivizing Sprawl with Sales Taxes

From Boom: A Journal of California via Per Square Mile

To see what a city formed around a power center—one of those enormous retail complexes anchored by a huge big box storelike Targetl—ooks like going forward, one need look no further than Phoenix, which has been dependent on sales tax for a long time. The incentive is to continue to build sales tax generating centers at the edge of the city, nearer the highway, to capture the consumption of people who live in surrounding areas, and development simply keeps sprawling outward. On the other hand, a property-tax-dependent city has no interest in moving the border of the city. It is interested in increasing the value of land and one way of doing that is having more dense areas, more amenities located in proximity to population.
Here in St. Louis, we can see the effect sales taxes have had on the urban environment by the concentration of retail along the region’s major freeways and arteries, I-270 in particular. It makes you think how differently development may have been built out had sales taxes been capped to, say, 2% at the local level or abolished altogether.

“We’re a Highway Department, Not a Bicycle Department”

No bikes
// nofrills

So the St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic wants to build its long sought South County Connector, a $110 million dollar project that would build a new road between Hanley Rd and River des Peres Blvd. Following the release of the draft environmental impact statement, the project has elicited a fair amount of criticism and condemnation from the City of Maplewood, Great Rivers Greenway, Trailnet, and St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie. Great Rivers Greenway expressed some of their concerns in a recent interview on KMOX.

Great Rivers sent a note of its own to the highway department, saying the Connector could neutralize $27 million in investments the organization has made to pedestrian and bike infrastructure on the River Des Peres Greenway and the Deer Creek Greenway.

“We would really like to see a connection that incorporates pedestrians, bicycles and motor vehicle use,” Susan Trautman, executive director of Great Rivers Greenway told KMOX. “The South County Connector could be a really great example of multimodal transportation where people can walk, ride their bikes, use their cars.”

But [St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic spokesman David] Wrone pours cold water on her comment.

“We want to provide a much need boulevard for cars and trucks,” he said, while also stressing that “bike ridership is important to us.”

“But I want to say we are in the business of providing safe and efficient necessary motor vehicle driving pavement. We’re a highway department, not a bicycle department.”

Words fail me, again.

It was a year-and-a-half ago that the County spokesman first left me speechless.

As a matter of policy, we don’t build dedicated bike lanes. St. Louis County salutes the bike-riding community, but we manage our system in the knowledge that motor vehicles comprise the vast majority of our customer base. The ground and money aren’t available to provide ‘Bike Only’ travel lanes.

And not long before that comment, there was the reasoning the department gave for removing Delmar Blvd through The Loop from the County’s arterial road system.

David Wrone, a spokesman for the highways department, contended that Delmar through the Loop “is a destination for many, many people. It has metamorphosed into a municipal road. It’s University City’s Main Street. You have so many pedestrians and parked cars and soon we’re going to have a trolley. It’s not an arterial road.”

“Our arterial roads are designated as such because they move a lot of traffic as quickly as is prudent.”

Click here if you would like to sign a letter asking County Executive Charlie Dooley and Councilman Pat Dolan to withdraw the South County Connector DEIS.

Illinois Chickens Should Only Cross the Road at Marked Crosswalks

Waiting to cross the road
// webmink

Must read article by Streetsblog Chicago. A recent court ruling in Illinois may erode the right of pedestrians to cross the street, making pedestrians personally liable if they get injured if they do not cross the street at a marked crosswalk.

On November 9, 2009, Joan Orth, 51, was crossing 95th Street at Kenton Avenue at around 5:45 p.m. in the Village of Oak Lawn. Before she could get to the other side of the street, a driver struck and killed her. […] The village and ComEd denied responsibility and the case was thrown out. Oak Lawn said it didn’t owe anything, arguing that Orth “was not an intended and permitted user of the street where the accident occurred” because there was no marked crosswalk, according to the ruling.

I can think of more than a few places where this ruling would effectively outlaw pedestrians.

Loop Trolley 2015

Loop Trolley
// merfam

At the East West Gateway board meeting on Wednesday, it was mentioned that the Loop Trolley expects to break ground sometime late summer or early fall. Construction would then take approximately 18 months. In other words, it’s estimated that the Loop Trolley will begin service sometime early 2015.

The Loop Trolley is a project to reintroduce streetcars to St. Louis and will extend just over 2 miles from the western end of The Loop to the Missouri History Museum. The out of date Loop Trolley website still includes mentions of possible project completion by early 2013.

Are Pets Allowed on Metro?

passenger awaits train (2)
At the 24th/Mission BART station, San Francisco. // Michael Patrick

Can you take your pet aboard a Metro bus or MetroLink? Metro’s website seems to clearly say no.

Can I bring my pet on MetroLink or a MetroBus on a leash or in a pet carrier?

Only service animals accompanying customers with disabilities can travel on Metro’s transit vehicles, and they do not need to be in a pet carrier.

However, a look at the St. Louis County and St. Louis City ordinances—both contain similar language—muddles the issue.

It shall be unlawful for any person to take any animal upon any bus or light rail conveyance or upon the enclosed property of any light rail conveyance, except the following:

  • An animal enclosed in a container, accompanied by a person and carried in a manner which does not interfere with any other person; or
  • Working dogs for law enforcement personnel, or dogs properly harnessed and accompanying visually or hearing impaired persons to aid such persons.

    So are pets allowed on Metro transit? City and county ordinances say yes but Metro says no. For what it’s worth, Metro confirmed by email that its current policy still prohibits pets aboard all buses and trains.