Accessibility and Pedestrian Access at Hobby Lobby

I found myself at the Southridge Mall Target over a lunch break a few days ago. On the way out of the (horribly designed and poorly maintained) parking lot, I witnessed an accessibility failure of monumental proportions. I had to take a picture.

What you see here in the middle of the photo is not a scooter, motorcycle, or other street-legal vehicle. It is a person in a motorized wheelchair forced to use a busy street because there are no sidewalks available. This situation represents a failure of the developers, designers, and local government code officials to adequately plan for pedestrian access to the site.

According to the Assessor's web site, the structures were originally built in 1975, well prior to passage of the Americans with Disability Act. A lot has changed in regards to Americans' understanding of accessibility since 1975, but what hasn't changed is our focus on automobile-oriented development patterns.

The buildings have seen significant and relatively recent remodeling/tenant alterations. In fact, the parking lot was paved in 2001 - a great time for everyone involved to think about pedestrian accessibility. It's never too late to do the right thing...

It's not that hard to imagine a sidewalk along the west side of the access drive that connects to another running on each side of Army Post Road. This sidewalk could connect Southridge Mall and the outbuildings on the south side of Army Post across a clearly marked pedestrian crossing at the stop light to the businesses and restaurants on the north side of Army Post.

This is particularly critical because the #7 DART line ends at Southridge Mall. Even if providing an accessible route from public streets to the building entrance wasn't the law, it would make sense from a liability standpoint to provide for safe pedestrian access.

Imagine the worst case scenario where a driver hit a person in a wheelchair who had no choice but to utilize the left turn lane at a busy intersection... who will be sued?

    A. The driver
    B. Any architecture/engineering firm that worked on site plans
    C. The property owner
    D. The store he or she was visiting
    E. The City (there's no pedestrian striping on the street)
    F. All of the above

I'm no lawyer, but I will give credit to anyone who answered "F - All of the above".

Clearly this entire area surrounding SE 14th and Army Post Road was constructed in an anti-pedestrian manner. Correcting the underlying zoning and planning mistakes that mar this commercial corridor would take decades. On the other hand, providing an accessible sidewalk and clearly marked crossings at this particular location would be easy.


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