Will Clayton Address Lack of Pedestrian Realm On Hanley With Demolition, More Parking?

The problem: sidewalks are too narrow and abut a high-speed arterial road without a tree lawn, crosswalks are faded and lack lighted signals, parking is 660 feet from the destination. The solution: demolish buildings and build more parking 200 feet from the destination.

At least this may be the preferred solution by the Central Presbyterian Church on Hanley Road in Clayton. The Post-Dispatch had a short mention online regarding the issue. The church owns 190 parking spaces at the Central Christian School across Hanley and approximately 660 feet from the church. A nearby resident reports being told by the church that they don't use that parking because church goers do not like to cross Hanley Road.

{current conditions at Hanley Road at Davis Drive}

The potential demolitions? A 16-unit apartment building adjacent to the church and three single-family homes facing the church across residential Davis Drive. It's a fact that fewer people walk to church today, parking is in demand. Many churches have left urban locales for suburban plots easily filled with asphalt to accommodate the one or twice weekly crowds. The Archdiocese of St. Louis recently bought, vacated, neglected and leveled the San Luis building in the city's most dense neighborhood, the Central West End, for parking.

The problem is that Hanley isn't pleasant to cross, or walk along. Why isn't the priority a quality pedestrian crossing for Hanley and sidewalks with a tree lawn? 660 ft., or 1/8 of a mile. This distance, as it is, is indeed too much for some. Crossing Hanley on a Sunday morning, or any other day with children, or for someone older than most is clearly no picnic.

Hanley resembles a highway more than a city street. Traffic is in invited to travel well above the speed limit and regularly rolls through at 40mph. And why not? There are four traffic lanes, an unobstructed center turn lane and no trees adjacent to the road. This is another example of a traffic pyramid scheme: widened, cleared, fast roads create an inhospitable pedestrian realm necessitating demolition of homes and other buildings for parking immediately next to ones destination, which creates an even more inhospitable pedestrian realm.

Better sidewalks and better pedestrian connections would benefit not just the church, but the neighborhood and visitors. Demolishing a 16-unit building and three single family homes, and then building parking would certainly cost millions, benefit only the church and be detrimental to neighbors and others. What kind of pedestrian crossing could be constructed with say $3 million?

For that amount a pedestrian bridge could be built, not that this is a good location for one. Heck, Lumiere Casino built a 400-foot tunnel with moving walkway under I-70 for approximately $8 million. The problem, as it is, presents an opportunity for a creative solution that could provide an example for region and best fulfill the church's stated mission to be a good neighbor. The following are just a few possibilities for a better solution than demolition and more parking.

{illustration of basic pedestrian crossing improvements}

{lighted crosswalks and crossing signs improve the pedestrian experience}

{a simple pedestrian refuge can greatly improve walkability}

{an overhead lighted crossing or other signage could better demonstrate a pedestrian presence to traffic}

{a light screen gives pedestrians a larger presence}