Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Three area trails to get a little longer

Even though the Measure C website welcomes you with a large graphic promising miles of new trails,  you'll find that the Fresno-area trail system has grown remarkably little over the past decade (I'll be soon posting an interesting map from the 70's to compare).

For 2013, there's nothing major in the work, but three small projects have recently made their way through the Fresno and Clovis councils which should make trail use slightly better. These three projects don't have exact build dates, but I would expect the first two to be useable by summer and the third by the end of the year. I will discuss them in the order they appeared before the councils.

The first project is in Clovis, along the Dry Creek trail. That is the trail which breaks away from the main regional trail near Herndon and Villa. I haven't written much about the Dry Creek trail, although I did talk about how it interacts with the main rail-trail in one of my reviews.

The project is supposed to make improvements near where the trail approaches the fantastic Dry Creek Park (home of the Clovis botanical gardens) which sits at the intersection of Alluvial and Clovis. Before reaching the intersection, the trail crosses what is apparently known as "Cottonwood Park".


Sadly, the council documents (PDF) had strikingly little to say about the project aside from the cost, and that it will involve construction of 670 feet of 12-foot wide trail.

My guess is that the project will fix a flaw in the trail system. The flaw is that the trail doesn't connect properly to the intersection and the continuation of the trail.

As you can see, there is a gap in the trail system.

Trail users must use the sidewalk, which isn't terrible, but there's absolutely no signage to indicate which way the trail users are supposed to go. It's also obviously much less pleasant than the trail itself, since you're right next to speeding traffic.

I would wager that the improvement involves making the trail have a more natural connection. Sadly, there's nothing in the bid to add lighting (Dry Creek Trail is not lit, even though Sugarpine is), and there's nothing to improve the intersection by adding a diagonal crossing that trail users could activate (in blue). That means users will have to continue to wait two cycles, and cross a much longer section of road.

 If I am right, expect the dotted red line, although it's possible the trail might simply be built alongside the existing sidewalk.


Personally, I'd much rather the funds went to add lighting or improve the crossing, or build the missing link in Old Town, as this trail problem wasn't that big of a deal. It'll be a nice improvement (if I'm right) - it just doesn't seem like it should have been a priority. 

I visited the location two weeks ago and there were no signs of construction yet. If any of you see construction begin, let me know. If not, I'll update it when it's done.

The second project is also in Clovis, on a different trail which you may have never even heard of - the Enterprise Trail. That project has even less information available (PDF), simply that it is 1,270 feet of a 10-foot wide trail.

The area that the documents talk about, Shepherd and Fowler is home to a real missing link, where the Dry Creek Trail (on the left) and the Enterprise trail (on the right) are supposed to connect, but don't.


Currently, the paved path dead-ends at a home, although you can continue on the elevated dirt path along the canal. On a bike, that can be a challenge, and you're not supposed to.


The length of the project coincides with the length of the missing segment. However, the price seems low for that construction. I'm not in that area frequently, but I'll check it out in a few months to see if the trails were indeed connected. That area is also supposed to be home to a parking area for the trails, but that is not included in this project, and honestly is something that's not needed.

That reminds me, a month or two ago there was an item about funds for a trail in the vicinity of Alluvial and Temperance. That would be a brand new trail heading north-east along 168, but the item was for initial planning funds, not construction.

The final project is in Fresno, on the far north side of town....all the way north, on Friant and Copper. That part of town has the pleasant Lewis Eaton trail which runs between Friant Avenue and the river. Copper is in the future supposed to have a trail connecting the Eaton trail to the existing trail along Willow. While I started this post noting that there has been very little trail construction over the past decade, it is fair to note that the massive Willow Ave widening project did include construction of a trail along the west side, connecting Shepherd Ave with Clovis North High School. 

Anyway, this project (PDF) will be the construction of the "Northpointe Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail" which is supposed to give residents of Woodward Lakes better access to the existing trail system. This project will be 1,100 feet long and 12 feet wide (with the trail area being 30 feet wide).


In the works since 2004 (seriously) this project will take what was originally Millbrook Avenue. Google is really excited about this one....they already have it mapped out as being usable. It's not. I guess they figured 8 years was enough waiting?


The red dotted path is this project. The blue dots are a future planned trail.Green of course is what exists. That small parking lot is for trail users, because street parking is such a hassle.


Foolishly, the neighboring road system was built so that residents won't be able to access the trail. Woops.

I can't see anyone outside of the immediate residents of Woodward Lakes using this trail, but it's always nice to have better connections. Perhaps it will lead more people to discover the river trail?

There's one final project you'll be hearing about a lot over the next few months - I expect the Bee front page. The city will be spending over $1m on a tunnel under Shepherd ave, where a young boy was killed this past year. That project has been in the works for a decade, and I actually oppose it. When my review of the Sugarpine trail eventually reaches that section, I'll elaborate on why I don't love spending so much on a tunnel.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

An exercise in blaming the victim

I perked up last month when I saw that the Fresno Bee had devoted an entire article to the epidemic of vehicle violence. I had recently noted that the Bee is littered with stories about deaths, injuries and tragedy on our streets ever day, and was excited about something that may contain an actual investigation, and not just a retyping of the police logs.

The article that actually took a look into the epidemic is called  Pedestrian deaths a tragic trend in Fresno.

Unlike last months excellent LA Weekly piece on the extraordinary amount of hit and runs in Los Angeles, and the completely ineffective work by police departments to stop this, the Fresno Bee story took a different angle: how to blame the pedestrian.

Many of the pedestrian victims wore dark clothing and walked on the roadway at night, said Sgt. Richard Tucker, of the traffic bureau. Tiani Philpot was wearing dark clothing and walking south in the southbound slow lane of four-lane Marks Avenue, near Emerson Avenue, when she was hit about 11:30 p.m.

"The roads are not designed for pedestrians," Tucker said. "They are designed for vehicles."

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/12/07/3093717/pedestrian-deaths-surge-in-fresno.html#storylink=cpy
Yes, how dare the victim wear dark clothing. Clearly, when she planned out her outfit early that morning, she should have considered that she'd be walking in an area with no sidewalk, and no street lights.

She was hit and killed in a school zone. But instead of street lights and sidewalks, it was deemed more important to have five lanes available for cars. The officer is right, this road wasn't designed for pedestrians. Instead of directing blame at the city engineering department, for designing this, and instead of directing blame at the motorists, who was driving too fast for conditions, isn't it just easier to blame the deceased?


You'll note a very well worn desire path on the right. Clearly, many people walk here. At night however, without streetlights, it may have been impossible for her to see that dirt path, or perhaps it was muddy or flooded.

Incidentally, that area just got a new traffic light in the past year. A crosswalk was added. But take a look at how much care was placed on this brand new construction (which you can see from the sign was funded by the stimulus). A remarkably narrow sidewalk, with a pole placed in the middle. An ADA violation like this, in something built in 2012 is unacceptable, but don't expect an inquiry as to how this was approved.


From the above quote, you might remember officer Tucker from a previous incident. He was quoted in a very similar story about a student hit by a vehicle in another part of town, again without sidewalks or street lights.

While Fresno Police work to determine who was at fault and whether the lack of lighting contributed to the crash, Sgt. Richard Tucker wants to remind pedestrians to take precautions to keep themselves safe.

"Walking in the roadway is not a place to walk, we're asking pedestrians to cross at the intersection, to push the button and wait for it to say walk. And of course the cross walk isn't always a safe zone. We're asking you always look both ways before you cross the road," said Sgt. Tucker.
In that story, there were no buttons to push, or sidewalks to walk on. For the officer, that didn't matter, the student should have attended school elsewhere I guess.

Isn't it great to know that the officer at the traffic bureau approaches cases involving pedestrians this way? I'm sure that leads to a fair and balanced collection of evidence and issuance of tickets. Why collect data on speeds, cell records, narcotics, road design etc when one can just point at the color of clothing worn by the victim and close the case?

It's not just him though. His fellow officer sees a solution to the all these killings: tickets.....for pedestrians.

Capt. Andy Hall said the simple solution would be to hold pedestrians accountable. But there's no hammer to punish them, he said. For example, red-light runners and drunken drivers face stiff fines. Their insurance goes up and they might lose their license, Hall said. Pedestrians who put themselves in danger get a jaywalking citation, Hall said. There is no threat of losing a license.

He has ordered his traffic officers to focus on people who jaywalk, ignore "Don't walk" warnings or dart into traffic.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/12/07/3093717_p2/pedestrian-deaths-surge-in-fresno.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/12/07/3093717/pedestrian-deaths-surge-in-fresno.html#storylink=cpy
Clearly jaywalking tickets are the solution to a problem created by a lack of sidewalks, no street lights, and no crosswalks.

No, it's not the streets with 50mph limits. It's not like 6 lanes of traffic with nowhere to walk. It's not the texting or drunk driving. It's the lack of jaywalking tickets.

And if only pedestrians had licenses....that would solve everything. The threat of losing a license would clearly force the pedestrians to use their teleporting skills to navigate their way around town, instead of the street.

Speaking of those drunk drivers, that apparently get punished....remember the Globe story on the lack of penalties for DUIs? The Fresno Bee should do something similar. Every week they report on 5-15 drivers getting arrested at the one DUI checkpoint for driving drunk. That doesn't tell us if they're free to go the very next day or not.

Instead, they published a descriptive list of the fourteen pedestrians killed in 2012. No such list is available for those injured, just killed. While the list details the clothes the pedestrians were wearing (last I checked, no laws on that), it also mentions something about the drivers.

Making the likely assumption that hit and run driver = drunk driver....

The drivers who killed pedestrians were.....
Drunk (no street lights)
Drunk. (no street lights)
Drunk (no street lights)
Not at fault (suicidal pedestrian)
Not drunk (kids)
Not drunk
Not drunk
Not drunk (no street lights)
Not drunk
Not drunk

So 14 pedestrian deaths. In six of them, the driver was drunk or fled. In four of them, there were no street lights. Not mentioned are the cyclists killed, including one the same day the story was published. That was also a hit and run.

Clearly the pattern here is that jaywalking tickets would solve everything.Why design better streets or crack down on reckless driving when blaming the victim is just so easy?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fresno's first public EV charging station still not built

I was pleased to read six months ago that Blackbeard's would be installing the first real public electric vehicle (EV) charging station in Fresno, along with a solar panel canopy in their parking lot. Currently, there are less than five EV chargers in the Fresno area - two at Nissan dealerships, and a couple of employee-only spots at Pelco and the Clean Air offices. The Blackbeard's one would be open to anyone, not just employees (it is unclear if the chargers would be free or not).

Sadly, it looks like the installation was abandoned. The parking lot looks exactly as it did in August, with trees ripped out, some concrete supports and nothing else. Sort of sad that a clean air project has resulted in less trees, and nothing else.


Autoblog reports that we started the year with over 5,000 public charging stations in the country, over 1,000 being in California. Shame that the area that most needs EV vehicles, the one with the country's worst air pollution is being left out.

While public charging stations aren't necessary to being able to own or operate an electric vehicle, since most charging is done at home, they provide extra flexibility and comfort. Having chargers located around town means you can go about your business without every having to worry about running dry. As the situation is now, many might pass on buying an EV because of the worry they'd be constantly hassled by the fear of a dead battery.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Trains go on strike to demand better living conditions

BOSTON- As she tightened her jacket to ward off the 5f (-15c) degree cold, commuter Tammy Jackson was shocked to see the crowd of over 200 overflowing from the entrance to the Andrew MBTA subway station. The cause for the crowding quickly became apparent - several Red Line trains had used the morning commute to go on strike and demand better living conditions.

Rhoda Kavner, a 1500 model Pullman-Standard rail vehicle, sat just outside the station, within view of the commuters. "I know it's tough for those commuters, I know it's a pain, and I know they're cold, but maybe now they can imagine how we feel." Rhoda staged her strike for a little under half an hour, before returning to work.

On the job since 1969, Rhoda says enough is enough. Forced to spend most of her day - upwards of fifteen hours- ferrying commuters back and forth between Boston and Cambridge is a thankless job, and Rhoda along with two other trains have decided that now is the time to bring awareness to their cause.

"Those commuters are hollering mad that they're being forced to stand around in the cold, but me and my coworkers are forced to sleep every night outdoors - and we don't get sweaters and scarves." Last night, the temperatures reached zero degrees, with a windchill under -10f.

Red Line rail vehicles were hired in groups during the late 60's, early 70's and early 90's, but conditions haven't changed since the system began operation over a hundred years ago. Tips, which were briefly welcomed at the end of the Dukakis governorship were quickly banned by Governor Weld.

Harold Silver, who began his career in 1970, also took part in the strike today, near Porter Station. "We don't get breaks, we don't get lunch, and we rarely complain. We open our doors when asked and we provide the smoothest ride this side of Worcester - we ain't asking for nothing more than a warm place to sleep at night."

Bill Lovejoy, a commuter stranded at Broadway did not care to hear about the strike. As he stood with a Dunking Donuts cup in hand, he anxiously looked as his watch. "I'm going to be late, and I have kids to feed, if those union trains don't like their job, than they should quit. I'm sick and tired of paying for their benefits and retirement packages and they're never on time."

Peter Won, a spokesperson for the Red Line, noted that the retirement plan consisted of being dropped into the ocean to retire as a reef, a perk that was one of few for the vehicles who spend their entire life servicing the public. He conceded that the strike was an inconvenience, but it was held during a time most commuters would understand the harsh winter conditions that the units must put up with.

When asked if the Red Line trains planned further strikes, Rhoda deferred the question. "We'll see if anything changes this week, if not, we may have to continue further strategic action."

Some appear to be listening. Governor Patrick today announced plans to raise statewide taxes to help improve transportation, and he made a nod to morning strike. He said the people left out in the frigid weather today due to a shutdown of the Red Line “totally get” the need for more transportation spending. The administration did not specify if the taxes would pay for blankets and space heaters for Rhoda and her peers.

Picture and news details from Universal Hub and the Boston Globe

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mexico City to finally get parking meters

One of the most traffic choked cities in the world has always been home to an oddity - street parking is free and with almost no restrictions. No time limits, no permits, no payment required - at least officially. As long as you don't block a driveway, you can park on a local street. This past weekend, a neighborhood got to vote on the novel idea of introducing parking meters to restore some order to their streets.

As "The High Price of Free Parking" taught us, a policy of free and unlimited parking comes with many serious drawbacks. For one, by making parking free, more driving is encouraged, which is especially troublesome in a city known for its endless gridlock. At any given point, how many tens of thousands of drivers are circling the block, looking for an elusive empty space?

The other downside has come with the way the market has responded - with extortion.

     Every day before dawn, dozens of men appear in the Mexican capital's hip Condesa neighborhood and block off parking spaces along entire streets using water jugs, cardboard boxes, buckets, crates and even blocks of cement. As visitors start arriving for the district's restaurants, organic food stores, boutiques and art galleries, the men collect 20 to 40 pesos ($1.50-$3), remove the obstructions and let drivers park.
     Often the only option is to pay the ad hoc attendants, known as "franeleros" for the rags — "franelas" — they use to signal cars in and out of parking spaces they have commandeered. Not paying could mean returning to a broken windshield wiper, a long key scratch along a door or, in extreme cases, a smashed window. Another option is to leave car and keys with valet parking attendants, who also block spaces for their clients.

So in some cases, parking is not free, but a payment is needed to guarantee the "safety" of your vehicle. It's a practice common in all of Latin America that nobody likes.

The city also says that these parking "assistants" are a security hazard, because they get to know the patterns of locals very well.

Posters plastered throughout Condesa warn that franeleros could be used by criminals because they spend entire days on the same streets, learning the habits of residents.

Change is coming, with the first parking meters having arrived last year, with excellent results.

Authorities laud the success of the machines that were installed in another affluent neighborhood, Polanco, a year ago. "Polanco was the parking lot of the whole city," said Maria Ignacia Moran, a community activist. "Office workers would leave their cars here all day, leaving behind traffic chaos because many of the cars were doubled parked, left on sidewalks. And at times the franeleros even parked them in our driveways."
Traffic in Polanco is now more orderly, open parking spaces can generally be found and franeleros have largely disappeared, at least when the meters are in operation. And money from the meters helps pay for increased police patrols and improved streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure, according to Erwin Crowley, executive director of the city's Public Space Authority.
According to the article, the franeleros are gone because the company who runs the meter has an incentive to make sure their spots aren't being blocked.

Local residents are given a permit, one per household, that allows them to park a single vehicle for free on the street. The charge for everybody else is now about $5 for a day of parking, or about 60 cents an hour.

The meters have had a big effect on traffic. While some commuters have simply begun parking further away, others have switched their mode of transportation.

Crowley said meters have pushed people to find other modes of transportation to Polanco. "Before we had 10,800 cars coming into the district each day. We have cut that to 5,400," he said. Some of those drivers simply started parking in nearby neighborhoods, which have seen an increase in traffic. So authorities have begun installing parking meters there as well.
 Naturally, not everybody is a fan of the new meters, as they mean charging for something that has always been free. 

Many are vehemently opposed, hanging banners from balconies to attack meters, saying the streets are public and no one should profit from them. But others hope the plan will cut down on cars from elsewhere. Parking has become so critical that some Condesa residents have seized their own pieces of the street by erecting removable metal bars that jut from curbs in front of their homes.
Some are even concerned that ugly surface lots have been redeveloped, because it makes things inconvenient.

"The main problem is not the franeleros but all the businesses that have opened up and have no parking," said Antonia Romero, 67, who has lived by Parque Mexico for 35 years. "We used to have parking lots, but they have been replaced them with apartment buildings."
 The parking meters are one of the many new changes that have come to Mexico City in the last decade, including BRT, bikeshare and Sunday streets. These changes have all had big effects on something the city used to be infamous for - air pollution.

This megacity of more than 20 million rang in the New Year with a pleasant revelation: the region registered 248 days in 2012 in which the air quality considered good.

Mexico City has emerged as an aspiring environmental model citizen in recent years as the left-leaning local government has introduced everything from barter markets for recyclables to bicycle-sharing arrangements to zero emissions bus corridors.

Tanya Müller García, the local environment secretary, presents posters charting the city’s air quality since 1986, when such record-keeping began, to underline how much the air has improved. Index scores topped 200 on a 500-point scale in the early years – bad enough that the local government could close schools and industry. No such scores have been registered since May 2003, while the number of good days steadily climbed from 181 days in 2008 to 211 days in 2011 to last year’s 248.
 New York Times

The parking meters should help clean the air as well. Less people driving (and choosing the subway or bus) obviously means less pollution, but the effects are far reaching, as each vehicle off the road means less congestion, and with that, every single vehicle still on the road pollutes less.

The locals agree. The residents of Condesa and neighboring colonias hit the polls this weekend, and according to preliminary results, the vote was "yes" for meters. The final results are to be published on Thursday. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Three pedestrians killed in one Fresno day

Saturday was quite the bloodbath for pedestrians out in Fresno area streets this Saturday.

17 year old skateboarder killed in mountain community. Bee report says he "ignored" the stop sign, but stop signs do not legally apply to skateboarders, which California law considers as pedestrians (as it does for roller skates and wheelchairs). Either the Bee made a mistake, or more likely, the CHP person they spoke to failed to understand California law. As such, the motorist is considered 100% innocent, and a kid is dead, a kid who may have been in the crosswalk (impossible to tell from report).

Man in road killed on Tulare, near 11th. The report indicates a man was simply standing in the road, and while one vehicle changed lanes to avoid him, the next did not. This is an area where almost none of the street lights work, and haven't for quite some time. While it's entirely likely the man was drunk or high, hence his decision to stand in the middle of the road, the second vehicle was clearly following too closely if they couldn't also change lanes. Naturally, that driver is free to go, and the city is under no obligation to provide working street lights.

Pedestrian killed in hit and run by probable drunk driver. The report mentions the vehicle was swerving between lanes, and then fled. While the Bee reports the nearest crosswalk was "several hundred feet away" pedestrians are not required to use crosswalk between streets that aren't signalized, such as the area where he was killed. That is as relevant to the report as stating that the SUV was not using the freeway, several hundred feet away. Just another way to fault the victim I guess.

I look forward to the Fresno police announcing a crackdown on pedestrians as a result of these tragedies.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fresno council committee recommending bus fare hikes

Yesterday's City Council meeting included a presentation from the "City of Fresno Transit Rates and Service Committee" which issued a report outlining short, medium and long term goals for FAX (Fresno Area Express). The committee was formed in 2010 during steep city budget shortfalls, and recommended a fare hike of 25 cents, which was put into effect January 2011, resulting in fares of $1.25. That would be to correct the "problem" that was the political decision of keeping mass transit affordable, and on par with peer systems.

One of their first recommendations is a series of fare hikes, including one this year of an additional 25 cents, and raising the base fare to $2.00 by 2017. That would mean a complete doubling of the fare in just six years, and this is in spite of the fact that the last service expansion was over a decade ago. Indeed, over the past decade, as the city population has ballooned and unemployment has spiked (currently still over 14% in Fresno), four routes were actually eliminated and no new service has been introduced. Probably not the best way to connect people with jobs.

The report essentially states that without fare increases, FAX is screwed. That would be true , if there was no other funding source....such as, I don't know, the City Council sending more money that way. The Council certainly has no issue spending large sums of money on road expansion, such as the current $55 million project to add new ramps on 180 to "ease merging". My heart goes out to all those who must merge every day. Incidentally, $55 million is more than the total annual budget for FAX.

So what do fare hikes mean to riders, besides the report promise of continued existence of the transit system? Apparently, the elimination of riders.

This chart makes absolutely no sense to me, so I shall just post it without comment.


I mean, are they really suggesting that the fare hikes would mean going from 18 million riders a year....to 5 million? And that's....a good thing? Perhaps someone leaving a comment could share some light on this math and/or policy. It's 2am, so I'm going to hope I'm the one that isn't reading right.

The report also talks about making FAX the "transportation of first choice" which presumably, means making the system actually usable to most people. Currently, for example, weekday service terminates at 9pm, and weekend service is done by 7pm. One of the recommendations is 20 minute frequency, which in most cities is considered pretty poor. Generally, 12 minutes is the most people will tolerate for "frequent" service, anything beyond that requires extensive planning.

Other suggestions include common sense items like better bus stops (such as benches and shelters) and the novel idea of providing schedule information at all times. Believe it or not, but currently routes and schedules are only posted at the transfer center....and only during business hours. If you don't have internet access, best of luck to you.

Naturally, funding sources are not identified.

There is also a proposal for night service, intended to correct the current issue of service ending so early. However, the plan is absurd enough it warrants its own post. 

 This information comes from the PDF report

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fresno's newest roundabout (and a bad CVS)

I got a tip a couple of months ago that a new roundabout was under construction in southeast Fresno. While new residential traffic circles have sprouted up all over town, real roundabouts at busy intersections only exist in two other places in Fresno, near Fresno State on Chestnut. While some large roundabouts exist at Copper Ranch, the traffic there is and always will be minimal, they're more for show, so I don't count them. The person who wrote to me was concerned about the bicycle treatment at the new roundabout, so of course I had to head down and take a look, but was only able to do so this past week.

The new installation is part of the Fancher Creek development, which is supposed to be a large transit oriented, mixed use project with dense homes and walkable businesses. Naturally, transit does not serve this specific transit oriented development, and the recession stopped all development on housing and commerce. However, the plan is slowly awakening from its slumber, as new homes are being built, and a CVS sprouted up as well.

    After years of delay, developers say a massive $200 million project is set to begin in southeast Fresno that would bring department stores, restaurants and entertainment -- all on a scale to rival River Park, which transformed northeast Fresno more than a decade ago. The much-anticipated Fancher Creek development was first proposed in 2000, and at the time, well-known developers Ed Kashian and Tom Richards put up signs saying it would be done by 2008.
   Flash ahead to 2011 and much of the 500 acres is still dusty and undeveloped. But now, Kashian and Richards say, the time has come for streets and utilities to be installed. That is expected to start in the next three months -- enabling parking structures and buildings to come next. Retailers would move in by the end of next year.
 Fresno Bee

 That was written in April of 2011, so once again the stories of "it's happening!" didn't pan out.....but one tiny part did. A new roundabout was born. The concern about bicycling access was important, because this entire project is supposed to be designed around walking and biking.
They will combine retail, offices and entertainment with about 500 residential units on top of the businesses to create a "walkable" urban community.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/04/19/2357277_p2/developers-fancher-creek-building.html#storylink=cpy
 The roundabout was built at the intersection of Fowler and Fancher Creek Drive, a road which previously didn't reach Fowler. That's just north of Kings Canyon.

This is what the area looked like a couple of years ago

This image shows the area under construction in August.

While I visited to analyze the quality of the roundabout for pedestrians and cyclists, I arrived by car. I parked in a residential area, and was surprised to see painted crosswalks, which are almost unheard of for minor streets like this.


Sadly, the nearby intersection itself didn't have crosswalks, but a crossing was available at a respectable distance.



Even though construction begun in August, they're not fully done. It's obvious here where the new road construction begins, and they haven't finished painting the lines.


This really impressed me...a temporary sidewalk! Usually, sidewalks are not built until the neighboring property is developed, and the city is content to place a "sidewalk ends, no pedestrian" sign, under the assumption that the pedestrian can teleport to their destination. Instead of doing that here, a cheap asphalt sidewalk was built.

When the property is developed, a real concrete sidewalk will be installed, but that could be 1, 5 or 10 years away, so a temporary one is fantastic.


You can see the bike lanes will be painted soonish


Moving closer to the roundabout


The sign is a little different to what is in place by Fresno State....

In this case, there's no advisory speed limit posted. 

Here we get to the bicycle treatment. Because roundabouts have traffic going straight, left and right in the same lane, creating a bike lane on the right can't be done because it would place cyclists going straight to the right of cars going right, leading to a collision. Instead what's done here is giving the cyclist the option of taking the lane on the left, as a vehicle would, or moving onto the sidewalk, and navigating the roundabout as a pedestrian.

I like this treatment because it allows confident cyclists to take the fastest route, while still giving risk-averse cyclists a safe option. Missing here is the "share the road" sign in place at Fresno State, but it's possible the sign may be installed in the future.


This is the part I was most worried about, because the roundabouts in Copper Ranch were built completely wrong. Notice in this case the ramp is angled so cyclists can comfortably continue onto the sidewalk. The tactile domes were improperly installed because they indicate to the blind that it's a pedestrian ramp as well.

In Copper Ranch, the ramps were installed incorrectly, and the city approved them. Note in this improper installation, cyclists would have to come to a complete stop to navigate the 90 degree turn onto the ramp. Further, this incorrect design doesn't make it clear what the ramp is even for.


 Back to the new roundabout....Another thing I liked was the lighting system, look, lights AT the crosswalk, where they're needed! Painted crosswalks as well, and more visible than the simple lines style.

The design itself of the lights I don't love, because these kind of fixtures send light up, instead of down, and the point is to light the road, not the cosmos. I wasn't able to view them at night to see how well they work, but the fact that there are 4 lights is also good, because if one fails, the crossing is still lit.

The crosswalk is wide, but the ramps aren't the bike friendliest. The z pattern in the island is supposed to be a safety feature, but I'm not a huge fan. Again, would be hard to navigate on a bike. You' also note a lot of pink concrete. Why so much dead space? Would be best used as dirt and small plants that could help filter rainwater.


Unlike the Fresno State roundabouts, an additional "arrows going around in circles" sign was attached to one of the yield signs, and a European looking large arrow sign was placed on the roundabout as well, which I think is much more visible. You can barely make out the one way sign in the image below

Fresno State:


Fancher Creek:


The exits are properly designed as well, so a car can stop for pedestrians while not blocking the circle.


Little to complain about here


The ramp for cyclists to return onto the bike lane. I'd position is at a slightly different angle, but it's perfectly usable. I'd also extend the white line all the way back.


While the main attraction was the roundabout, I decided to check out the new CVS. The temporary sidewalk leading to it is quite wide here which is nice.


Very odd placement of turn arrow, but a bike lane does exist all the way to the intersection.


As for the CVS, it's your same cookie-cutter model that gets built in two months and sort of looks like crap. The design has one MAJOR problem, which I don't understand how it made it past corporate design and city approval.

Note the sign. I'll explain in a second.


Before looking at the bad design, we reach the intersection. A crosswalk has been blasted away. Hopefully, the replacement gets painted soon, right? The good news is that Fresno is now building intersections with 2 ramps on each corner, each pointing at a crosswalk.


Here's the absolutely terrible design. The store is on a corner lot, so many pedestrians will naturally arrive from across the street, and want to make their way as quickly as possible to the front door. To do so, two very small concrete sidewalks were built, which extend directly onto the front of where a parked car will be. Note that there's no ramp. This is not wheelchair accessible. This was built in 2012.



So remember the previous handicap sign?

Here's what a disabled customer arriving from across the street must do.


ADA guarantees the disabled equal access to stores. This is not equal access, as it requires a lengthy and circuitous detour around the parking lot, and across the drive-thru exit, to reach the entrance non-disabled patrons can quickly cross to. This should be a lawsuit against CVS, and possibly the city for approving it. ADA was passed in 1990, there is no excuse.

I guess CVS assumes all disabled patrons arrive in vehicles. If there's any upside to this, is that the bike racks are front and center. Although the rack design is poor, the location couldn't be any more optimal.  Also note the extensive use of truncated domes (those yellow bumps). This is a clear indication that the designer and contractor doesn't understand what they're for, as so much is not at all needed, nor of any help.


If you thought CVS pulled out all the stops to hinder ADA access, guess how they feel about clean air? CSV rolled out the red carpet for "Clean Air Vehicles".....at the furthest spots from the front door. I bet you can't wait to splurge on an electric vehicle to get the privilege of parking in the worst spots!


Anyway, enough with CVS and their poor store design. Back to the roundabout. Across the street, no temporary sidewalk was built (at least yet).


However a temporary one was built across the side of the roundabout which won't be used for awhile.


I feel like the light was improperly placed...


A temporary sidewalk was built to the bike ramp. I'm impressed.


Not done yet


Crosswalks again. When I was crossing here, a platoon of vehicles arrived, and three passed without yielding to me. I had to move onto the road for the next one to stop.


One leg of the roundabout has the right turn segregated by an island. I'm not sure if I like this or not. May be better for pedestrians, but may encourage higher speeds.


You can see the right turn lane is separated by concrete



Going back to the car, a little annoyance.


Overall, I like this roundabout. As far as roundabouts go, it was well designed, although this doesn't prevent some of the downsides that come with them, such as the longer pedestrian walking distances. I was impressed by the use of temporary sidewalks, and relieved to see the bike ramps were done mostly right. The CVS is another story, and perhaps one day some dashing entrepreneur will sue their pants off.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/04/19/2357277/developers-fancher-creek-building.html#storylink=cpy