St. Louis-area mall "forgets" pedestrian accomodations . . .

The West County Center mall in Des Peres recently went through an expansion and renovation. Planners "forgot" to include sidewalks, safe pedestrian crossing facilities, and mass transit access to the mall because of a variety of difficulties.

"When the mall opened, we got more pedestrians than we anticipated," [a mall spokesman] said. "They were people from the neighborhood who walked to the mall. We have noticed more people at the bus stops."

Des Peres City Administrator Douglas Harms acknowledged Monday that city officials did not consider seriously pedestrian access when they approved plans for the mall.

Mall and city officials noticed what officials worldwide have noticed:
  • For reason of necessity or preference, many people rely on walking and cycling as a primary mode of transportation.
  • pedestrians and cyclists need to be able to go everywhere that automobiles go, and for the very same reasons.
  • There are always more pedestrians than planners imagine, and there would be far more yet if pedestrian conditions across the state were not absolutely abysmal.

Because they have created a dangerous accessibility situation for pedestrians with disabilities, mall officials have opened themselves to a potentially costly lawsuit under the Americans With Disabilities Act as well.

From all angles, including liability, it makes good business sense to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. Most pedestrian/cyclist enhancements a relatively inexpensive in proportion to the budget of an entire project, and most enhancements benefit motorists, as well.

In fact, one of the main problems outlined in this article is that people who park in the mall parking then must walk a dangerous path from the parking spot into the mall itself. In the end, every motorist is a pedestrian--they're just not used to thinking of themselves that way.

And if more people could walk or ride the bus to the mall, the mall parking lot wouldn't be so jam-packed.

This isn't just pie-in-the-sky. It is working right now for communities across the country and the world.

Read the rest of the story on STLToday.