Friday, March 18, 2016


I assume this fatality was either a cargo train or Amtrak.  However, this would be the second time in two weeks that someone has been hit on the tracks. (See last post.)

For the most part, train tracks are privately owned and leased.  If you have ridden on Amtrak you learn this, because they have to stop A LOT for cargo trains, and local Metrolinks.  Not all of the tracks are well maintained, and Amtrak often has to stop or has problems due to problems with the tracks.  Sometimes these are long waits because they have to wait for the track owning companies to come make the repairs.

No entity that is private and for profit is going to put safety first. No entity that is funded by government money but not publicly owned is going to put safety first. Railroad tracks, like public transit, should be owned by the public and maintained at the highest standard.  Amtrak is completely subsidized by the government.

The Loop Trolley has encountered another error.  Shocking (*sarcasm*).  The main focus is on the fact that cars might be hit.  With that narrow a margin, this screams "pedestrian injury/fatality." PLEASE REMEMBER that the Trolley got a big chunk of money for "urban revitalization" (  Originally the Trolley was to run down Forest Park Parkway.  But to keep the Urban Circulator funds, they had to re-route the trolley through an "urban area"- in this case, the part of the Loop in the city.  (Let's not forget that this Trolley is about making sure no local "park and ride" and rural tourists have to set foot on a Metro bus to go drink beer and eat cheeseburgers at Blueberry Hill. That is ALL this trolley is really about.)

I find the city and county planners, street services, and MODOT, do be completely blind to pedestrians and pedestrian safety.  The lights at the corner of Skinker and Delmar are a perfect example.  (I haven't actually been at that corner in awhile, completely avoiding it even if I had to go to the Loop by turning on Olive or Vernon, since I am always coming from the north.  So maybe they fixed it. I doubt it.  I pointed it out to them a few times when I first moved back here.)

Stand at any of the corners and watch the light sequence.  In each cycle there is a 30 second or so period where traffic is only moving from two directions- meaning no left or right turns.  The car traffic has usually slowed at this point.  During this time there is  the inevitable crossing of pedestrians against the light, because of the lag. There is also a turn light that comes up during this time, which adds to the confusion.  I can't recall which direction now, even though I used to encounter it daily a few years ago.   Day and night I've seen near misses as someone comes speeding to catch the light before they think it is going to change, and pedestrian confusion-  that is, stepping out into the walkway because the instinctual, intuitive understanding of how traffic lights are normally sequenced, and not expecting that out of sequence turn light.

(There is one turn light that looks like it was added much later than the rest.  At one point I made a little diagram of where the light needed to be sequenced. I'm pretty sure it was the right turn onto Delmar from northbound Skinker, and the lag was the north-south flow of traffic on Skinker.  But I can't recall exactly and have no idea where those notes are.  This is all from memory.)

Even with all the focus on Washington University students- many of whom walk and bike in the area, and live in the Loop- the people that make all the decisions do not walk or use public transit.  You need nothing more than a heavy snowfall to prove this.  The ploughs come out immediately, and the streets are clear. But all the snow is piled up on the sidewalks.  Even in the Loop and other areas with heavy foot-traffic, shoveling sidewalks is the responsibility of the property owners and businesses.

North County though, has to be the worst in terms of street planning and pedestrian safety.  To get to the new North county transit center on foot- and a lot of times it is faster to walk from your last connection than wait for a bus- you have to walk on a shoulder.  The bus stops in front of Centene have no shelter and trash cans.  The bus stop across from Centene-- west/south side- is on the shoulder and then there is a slope into a little ditch before the fence separating the 270 freeway.  Super fun to stand there at night. (Again, *sarcasm*.)


It's always strange to me, when people talk about our "infrastructure".  Only in the last two hundred years have roads been mostly for something other than pedestrians.  Their were pedestrian fatalities from carriage accidents, but certainly not as many.  Horses in a wooden carriage versus horsepower and 2000 pounds of metal are a very different situation for the person on foot.

I heard President Obama say, when one of the highway bonds was up for the voters, "This is what we do- we build roads and bridges."  (Or something like that.) True.  But no one in the world has more than 65 years of experience building and maintaining roads solely for use of the internal combustion engine.  In this country the population of people and the amount of cars on the road doubled since the 1970's and we are only now seeing what a mistake it was to ditch the railroads for trucks and public transit for private automobiles.

All one has to do to see how blind to pedestrians the planners are is go look North County Transit Center. (Or Maplewood. The worst, in my opinion, as detailed in the optinstl link above, and here again:

These planners and city leaders, and most of the Metro executives, have never ridden the bus except on rare occasions, and seem to walk only for exercise or because they have dogs, and usually then, only in their own neighbourhoods.  (And sidewalks are often missing in areas that were "developed" after the 1950's.  Who needed them right?  We will all just drive a block to the store or park, etc.)

If St. Louis monitored pedestrian traffic as much as car traffic, there would be sidewalks and lighting in most parts of North County (and south and west county, too, actually).

There is nothing more troubling than seeing people with small children standing out on that shoulder in front of Centene, or the many other bus stops just like it.

And this last schedule change seemed to bring a higher than usual amount of bus stop closings.  I'm all for efficiency, but I don't trust the way Metro does things.  For example, on Chambers they are eliminating two bus stops.  On paper it makes sense.  But these two bus stops sit at the bottom of two hills, right where an apartment complex is.  That means that the people in wheelchairs or with health issues will have to go up the hill to catch the 61.

Route changes should not be made by asking the advice of random people motivated enough to go to one of the meetings, or briefly surveyed at Open Houses, even if they are held at transit centers.  Metro should have neighborhood liaisons that are employed or compensated by Metro to determine and tailor public transit to the community's needs.

Please, call Metro today and tell them what you need for a better, faster, safer transit experience:

Call Metro every time you ride!

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