Saturday, April 30, 2011

In the news - Eaton Trail Extension

For over ten years now, the city has been planning to extend the Eaton Trail, a pedestrian, cycling and equestrian trail that runs in the northern portion of the city, parallel to the San Joaquin River.

The existing portion begins (or ends?) at Woodward Park, and heads north, parallel to the busy Friant Road. It's a comfortable trail, with curves and changes in grade prudent to recreation, but also a good alternative to biking on the very busy highway next to it. I'll have pictures of that trail soon.

So here is the project:


In the above diagram, the existing Eaton Path is visible in red. It ends just north of the screen capture. One branch heads to the south-east portion of the park, while the other stays on the north side of it. The park has it's own system of trails which allows for a recreational loop (either on a trail or in the 15mph roadway).

The yellow box indicates the section of the path that is a good alternative for commuting on the parallel road.

The southern branch links with some sidewalks trails (10 foot sidewalks) which gives you access to the much longer Fresno-Clovis Rail trail (in green).

The northern branch ends in a chain link fence. Unlike with car infrastructure, no warning is given that you are biking downhill into a wall. Enjoy the ride back.

There are two planned extensions. One would require a bridge over the river to let cyclists cross into Madera and access the valley children's hospital.

The other would be strictly for leisure, as it would meander across an empty meadow area, near the river. Any commuting cyclists would take the shorter Audobon road option.

The extension currently being debated is not the bridge, but the river path.


So the major purpose of this path is leisure, not transport, but it does help expand the cycling network because it stands to reason that those biking on the path will also bike to their homes.

So the grand total cost of this project? $2.5 million. Sort of. The Bee article doesn't clarify if the $2.5 million will cover the 2 mile extension or the 22 mile master plan.

On it's own, not insignificant, but it IS pennies compared to what the city and county spends every years expanding roads. Not maintaining, but expanding. The $100 million + freeway extension can be seen in a post from a couple of weeks ago.

Of course, when it comes to infrastructure for bikes and pedestrians, getting any funding is like pulling teeth.

But in this case, it seems like the funding is already there.

So what's the holdup?

NIMBY's, for one. Apparently, creating a link to their neighborhood so people don't have to drive to the trail will in turn cause people to drive to the trail and use THEIR public street parking. Huh?

And slow bureaucracy for second. EIR is scheduled for this year (maybe) and then council vote next year (maybe).

Let's hope they don't keep delaying it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

In the news - Amtrak

The first interesting news article yesterday was that Amtrak California (Caltrans) will be purchasing 27 new coach cars.

8 of those coach cars will be designated for the San Joaquin. Of the entire purchase, 9 will replace older cars, leaving 18 cars to increase capacity. This is great news, as it shows Caltrans strongly believes that ridership will continue to grow, and the existing 4 car trains (3 coach, 1 cafe) aren't enough. During the summer and on holidays, the San Joaquin gets 5 cars. This new order should allow 5 cars year-round.

What the order also indicates is that there are no plans to introduce business class to the central valley, as no new business cars were ordered. There are also no dining cars being ordered which can be configured to have a business section.

As for increasing runs to 7 a day, the article does not specify if having more cars will make it more likely or not. The order only calls for 2 engines to replace existing models, and not to add capacity in that sense.

The money to fund the purchase comes from 2010 federal grants and a 2006 state bond measure.

In the news

Two interesting news articles today. I'll have full commentary for them this weekend.

Amtrak California to buy 27 coaches, 2 new engines. 8 Coaches to be assigned to San Joaquins.

Extension of Eaton Trail meets NIMBYs, budget issues

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Google Maps 3

I found a news article from last year that listed all the new bike lanes.

I've gone ahead and added them via map maker, so hopefully they're online for everyone by tomorrow.

It should be interesting to see the "explosion" of bike lanes in downtown.

Of course, the real change came last summer, when a combination of road diets and simple re-striping added them all.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Google Maps 2

Well, it worked. I finally got the bike lanes downtown to show up on google maps. Problem is, I no longer remember all the streets that have them. Woops. Oh well, two are better than none.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Google Maps

Google maps is an excellent resource, because of the aerial and satellite imagery it provides. Unfortunately, the updates are rare. It took Fresno 4 years to get updates imagery (2005-2009) although in 2010 that was followed up with higher resolution aerial (angled) imagery.

One of the features google maps provides is a map of bike lanes. Google allows you to submit "problems" when the map is missing a lane or path that exists. However, I've found that the google employees only accept your input if they can verify it with the aerial imagery. Since the aerial imagery is now a year old, this is a problem when it comes to reporting new lanes.

Fortunately, google has launched a new tool for ANYONE to edit the maps.

It's called google map maker and it's available here

I've submitted some new paths, lets see if this time they accept them into the system.

Government Sprawl, Part 3

Had a very busy week, so sorry for the delay. Here is the continuation of the picture set

As seen from the adjacent property

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Government Sprawl, Part 2

Here is the brand new school I mentioned yesterday. In what once was a lovely rural grove, is not concrete, open space (fantastic for our hot summer days) and rooms to fill with the teacher we can't afford to pay.

What a nice rural road, lets explore

So pretty.

Oh no, what's this? it's been clear cut!

The horror

What this rural area REALLY needs is an extremely wide road. 2 lanes werent enough, we need 6!

Looking back

To be continued

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Government Sprawl

According to the newspaper, the state is broke. The county is broke. The city is broke. Teachers are being laid off because there's no money for schools.

But in Fresno, a beautiful orchard is much too appealing for development. It doesn't matter that there's no money. It doesn't matter that there is plenty of space elsewhere. It doesn't matter that there are no homes nearby.

It's an orchard, and it's of monumental importance that it be torn down and replaced with a cookie-cutter school.

What was.

What is.

Full ground-level tour tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Transportation Hippos

You know when someone makes an argument, and sets out a series of points, and one of those points is a direct contradiction to an earlier point?

I'm going to call those transport hippos, for hypocrisies.

Today's hippo of the day:
The nobody/everybody paradox.

An argument about why bike lanes are terrible:
-Nobody uses them!
-They're a waste of money!
-I drive down main street every day and see, at MOST, 1 person on a bike a week, and they're on the sidewalk!

Immediately followed by:
-All cyclists run stop lights!
-Cyclists break every law on the book!
-Cyclists are a danger to society, they scare pedestrians and frighten drivers!
-Cyclists slow me down! I can't afford to be late to work because of people on bikes!

So what is it, does nobody bike, or are their hoards of cyclists out terrorizing everyone and simultaneously slowing people down?

Can't be both.

In fact, I guess we have a double.

On one side, cyclists are too fast, as we've all heard:

-The cyclists came out of nowhere!
-He dashed into the intersection!

Followed by

-They're so slow, they should go to speed limit or get out of the way.

So what it is, are they too fast, and thus a danger to society, or too slow, and thus an annoyance?

Can't be both.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


It seems like the news of the day is gas prices. So here's my prediction:

Today, April 11, 2011
National: 3.78
Fresno: 4.09

May 4:
National: 4.04
Fresno: 4.45

May 15:
National: 3.99
Fresno: 4.39

Let's see how my super-awesome forecasting skills are.

Friday, April 8, 2011


So tonight, at 11:15pm, the house and senate made a deal on the budget.

What amazes me more than the budget itself is the amount of misinformation flying around. We're on the internet, so "fact check" website are key-strokes away, and yet people are content to take a catch-phrase and repeat it as if it's the word of God. It scares me that some are so adverse to compiling all the information before deciding on a rational position.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In the news

Today's edition of the paper had an article about the development of this 40 acre lot, in northeast Fresno.,-95.677068&sspn=36.231745,71.982422&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Clovis,+California+93611&ll=36.857802,-119.782948&spn=0.008945,0.025749&t=k&z=16

It is an interesting area. To the northwest lies Woodward park, the largest park in Fresno. To the north and east, like single-family detached homes. To the west, lies a series of "office in the parking lots" all built within the last 10 years, and none full.

Apparently this project will continue the offices (probably keeping huge amounts of surface parking), add some shops, and even a grand total of 24 apartments.

More interesting is the transportation. The eastern and southern boundary both have class 1 bike trails, and it would be nice to see more bike infrastructure added. Nearby is also a very bike and pedestrian unfriendly highway interchange.

This square is also supposed to be the terminus of Fresno's first BRT route. Has the city set aside land for buses to lay over?

Probably not.

Very little information is available online about this project. But it's been approved, and scheduled to begin construction next year.

180 and farmland - Part 6

We finally reach the end of the current extension of the 180. Of course, further extensions are already being planned.

2009: Academy Ave to Quality Ave
 2010: Academy Ave to Quality Ave

2009: Quality Ave to Madsen Ave


Quite the bustling metropolis this highway extends to! I guarantee, in 10 years, these same images will be full of subdivisions, and not farms.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In the news

This article in the paper caught my eye today

Construction will start this month on the widening of Highway 99 starting in Kingsburg and ending in Goshen — taking the highway from two lanes to three in both directions. Officials had a groundbreaking for the project Friday.

"This is important to our region. It will save lives and help the environment," said Rudy Mendoza, a staff member for Congressman Devin Nunes, R-Visalia. "One word describes what we're doing here: progress."

The widening project, coming in at $110 million, is expected to be complete in mid 2014, Caltrans says. The majority of the project is being funded by Proposition 1B, which allocated $8 billion for transportation projects since it was approved by voters in 2006. The widening will remove the highway's median and oleanders and add lanes through the 14-mile stretch between Goshen and Kingsburg.

More than 50,000 motorists make their way up and down 99 each day between Goshen and Kingsburg.

Nunes of course, loves everything to do with highways. How widening a highway will help the environment, baffles me.

Also, is it just me, or does 50,000 cars a day seem low? The area already has four lanes, meaning 12,500 cars per lane, per day. Don't traffic lanes generally carry around 2,500 cars per hour?

It seems like the 99 is not anywhere near capacity at the moment.

180 and farmland - Part 5

2009: Indianola to Bethel

 2010: Indianola to Bethel

2009: Bethel and Fairbanks

 2010: Bethel and Fairbanks

2009: Academy Ave
2010: Academy Ave