Monday, April 20, 2015

Transit opponents reach new low in quest to fight bus

I thought I was well versed in the myriad reasons people pull from their hat to oppose an expansion of transit. Thanks to a very helpful link provided by a comment in my recent post about a new bus service linking Fresno and Yosemite, I see I was wrong; there is much to learn about transit opposition. It really is fascinating how deep people will go to find a way to oppose even the most rudimentary improvement to transit(5 round trips a day).

The comment linked to a well written article in the Sierra Star about the new bus service. As a newspaper based in Oakhurst, they are by far the authority on happenings in the area, and were able to go into much greater detail than the Fresno-based news outlets on the new service. Part of that coverage included a history of opposition.

Before we get to the opposition, let's take a quick look at the reason why the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) wants to start the service:

“I have always thought that service on Highway 41 was a no-brainer,” Whittington said. “You have the largest city in the valley with the largest international airport in the valley, with Amtrak and Greyhound connections at one end of Highway 41, and Yosemite National Park on the other end, which now has four million visitors a year. A woman who works at the information booth at the Fresno airport told me she has people who often come to her asking about getting on a bus to Yosemite, saying they can’t drive, and she has to say, ‘Go downtown to Amtrak and go to Merced.’ How can that be good for anyone’s business in Madera County or Fresno County?”
Simple enough.The article also provides a bunch of other reasons to support the bus as well.

Now onto the innovative opposition!

We'll start with your run-of-the mill opposition, which trots out for anything transit related.

Opposition 1: Tea Party Logic

“Eighty-five percent of YARTS’ operating budget comes from the taxpayers,” former Oakhurst resident Lou Aceto said. “In the Tea Party, one goal is fiscal responsibility and to terminate grants for YARTS. If you’re a true Conservative or Tea Partier, then get rid of all these transit programs which are not profitable.”

Your standard "all taxes are bad" language. Not innovative at all. Quite logical of course, because we're talking about a subsidized bus running from a subsidized transportation terminal (Amtrak and Airport) to a subsidized National Park, via a subsidized institution (Fresno State), on a subsidized highway system (Highway 41), but the bus is the monster. Really though, cookie cutter stuff. 

Let's move on to the first of the head scratchers:

Opposition 2: It encourages less cars
“I still feel the National Park Service (NPS) intends to remove all automobile traffic from the valley,” Aceto said. “The immediate plan is to greatly reduce traffic there, by restricting automobile use ... and encouraging visitors to leave their automobiles at parking areas with bus service to the valley.”
Yes, the above comment is OPPOSITION to the bus, as it encourages people to park away from the famously beautiful and ecologically sensitive valley. I assume because that's an attack on freedom, and maybe Agenda 21?

Back to your standard opposition line: 

Opposition 3: No one will use it.
“YARTS is still bad for the taxpayers and Madera County,” Madera County Supervisor Rick Farinelli said recently. “Madera County Transportation Commission ran a study that showed that Madera County residents have no interest in riding YARTS, and it looks like that lack of interest remains high. Because of this, it is still highly subsidized by taxpayers. It’s a foreshadowing of the coming High Speed Rail debacle, if it’s (high speed rail) ever finished."
Standard line about lack of use. Of course, YARTS has years of real data on ridership on their other lines, and Amtrak sells 13,000 bus tickets a year to Yosemite, but alas, the gut instinct is strong. 

Moving on...

Opposition 4: Actually, some people will use it, but we don't care about them
“That statement (Madera County transit buses, though subsidized, provide a vital resource to Madera’s poorest citizens)  cannot be made about YARTS, which provides recreational access and employee shuttling – two purposes that taxpayers should not be on the hook for,”

Hm, so screw the park employees (who are not well paid at all), and screw people who dare enjoy a national resource.  Ok, fair enough, your "I have mine, screw you" response.

Now the REAL party begins! 

Opposition 5: Too many people will use it and that will kill local business

“The family road trip to Yosemite is the lifeblood of the local economies surrounding the park. Cars on their way to the park visit our shops, eat at our restaurants, and purchase gas at our stations. The taxpayer-subsidized operation and promotion of YARTS takes those travelers out of their cars and onto buses that pass Madera County by without stopping. That’s why most of the area’s businesses and chambers remain opposed to the system.”

Wait, what? This is the same guy who said nobody will ride the bus! He literally just said that! But now so many people will ride the bus rather than take their cars that the areas businesses are screwed!

Now let's think about this for a minute. 5 buses a day means, at most, 250 people. Yosemite sees over 10,000 visitors a day. The bus, quite frankly, is not significant. On the other hand, the car traffic is significant, and I'm sure local residents hate going up the mountain at 20mph.

Secondly, the bus riders are likely people who could not or would have visited the park before due to lack of vehicle or unwillingness to drive hours on mountain roads. You know, elderly folks, disabled people, people of lower incomes, or those who just rather be car-free. They were never stopping for gas anyway!

Oh, and not to mention they do plan to stop the bus at those towns along the way! 

Continuing on to the innovative opposition:

Opposition 6: The bus experience sucks

State Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, then a member of the Madera County Board of Supervisors and the county transportation board, said busing would not promote a meaningful experience for Mountain Area and Yosemite visitors, and still feels the same today. “Busing will herd visitors between set locations like cattle, and will take away from leisurely travel time that helps the local economy, giving tourists more flexibility to shop and dine,” Bigelow said

This one is a new low for me. And I thought opposition point 5 was as deep as they could go. We shouldn't have a bus because we need to protect people from the horrendous experience of relaxing to and from a strenuous day of hiking? You can't make this stuff up!

What is amazing is that all these opposition points were repeated in an opinion letter than ran the next day in the paper.

My favorite line:
Since when is it the tax payers' responsibility to pay for transportation to doctor appointments, visit families, and get subsidized fares to and from airports for entertainment on the backs of tax payers?
Heavens forbid that our elderly population have a transportation option to reach the docto!

I didn't understand why the bus service between Fresno and Yoesmite didn't previously exist. I assumed it was your standard budget fight, I had no idea it went so deep. It really is scary how many hoops people will jump through to oppose a bus.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bus service from Fresno to Yosemite starting this May!

Valley Public Radio reports that for the first time, public transit will be available between Fresno and Yosemite.
 
The lack of service has always been curious. The city re-branded the airport from Fresno Air Terminal to Fresno Yosemite International Airport, and added a fancy looking fake sequoia grove, but you needed a car to actually get to the park.

Starting this summer, $30 will get you a round trip bus ticket (including park admission) from Fresno to Yosemite Valley, which will complement existing service to Yosemite from Merced. There is also bus service to Sequoia National Park.

 photo yosemite_zpsfibxbsfg.jpg
Once at the park, visitors can use the free shuttle system around the valley, hike, or hitchhike to reach places like Glacier Point.

While an exact schedule hasn't been set, there will be four buses a day, Stops look to be planned for the Greyhound station, the Amtrak station, the airport, and likely a final Fresno stop around River Park. Additional stops would be at Highway 145, Coarsegold, Oakhurst, and Fish Camp.

Discounted fares will be available for trips not going all the way to Yosemite. That is, this will be a new opportunity to use transit between Fresno and the foothills.

You can find additional information on http://yarts.com/ , where the schedule will eventually be posted.

This is a much needed service, and I am sure it will be well used. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fresno might get its first protected cycle track!

I've been angrily hammering away on an article about the proposed Smart and Final project, but fortunately I found something in this weeks City Council Agenda that has temporarily soothed my nerves:
Approve a first amendment to agreement with BKF Engineers in the amount of $76,600 to provide professional engineering services for the evaluation of Class IV bicycle facilities between Downtown Fresno and the Tower District and the preparation of a feasibility study for a Class I bicycle trail along the Herndon Canal and Mill Ditch canal banks and to authorize the Public Works Director or designee to sign and execute the standardized agreement on behalf of the City (Council District 1, 3 ,4 and 7)
City Council
 So what is a Class 1 and a Class IV bicycle facility?

(a) Bike paths or shared use paths, also referred to as “Class I bikeways,” which provide a completely separated right-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians with crossflows by motorists minimized.
(b) Bike lanes, also referred to as “Class II bikeways,” which provide a restricted right-of-way designated for the exclusive or semiexclusive use of bicycles with through travel by motor vehicles or pedestrians prohibited, but with vehicle parking and crossflows by pedestrians and motorists permitted.
(c) Bike routes, also referred to as “Class III bikeways,” which provide a right-of-way on-street or off-street, designated by signs or permanent markings and shared with pedestrians and motorists.
(d) Cycle tracks or separated bikeways, also referred to as “Class IV bikeways,” which promote active transportation and provide a right-of-way designated exclusively for bicycle travel adjacent to a roadway and which are protected from vehicular traffic. Types of separation include, but are not limited to, grade separation, flexible posts, inflexible physical barriers, or on-street parking.
Legislature

A cycle track, in Fresno!?

Sure, San Francisco has them....

  photo cycletrack6_zpst4zmmlkz.jpg

Streetsblog

 and Los Angeles has them (as of last week)...

  photo cycletrack5_zpsls4jhded.jpg

 Streetsblog

and cities like Chicago, Washington, New York and Boston have had them for years, but it looks like modern engineering has finally arrived in Fresno!

So where might they be built?
...an evaluation of Class IV bicycle facilities along Van Ness Avenue and Fulton Street between Divisadero Street and McKinley Avenue.

Van Ness Avenue and Fulton Street are the preferred connection between Downtown and the Tower for both motorists and people on bicycles. They each are one way, and were some of the first Fresno streets to get bicycle lanes added after construction (most new streets are designed with bicycle lanes in mind, but only within the last 5 years did Fresno start adding bicycle lanes to existing streets).

Because the Tower and Downtown were developed in the streetcar area, they are also the best place in the metro region to walk and bike for transportation. Further, with Fresno City College on the north end, it is by far the best corridor to install high quality bicycle infrastructure.

You can see the existing bike lanes, and project length here:

 photo cycletrack1_zpsqlxlkzvw.jpg

Today, Fulton and Van Ness are both wider than they have to be for the traffic they get.

Fulton:
  photo cycletrack2_zpsmj3dyqn1.jpg

Van Ness:
  photo cycletrack3_zpsrz8xc8yr.jpg

This is an excellent opportunity to fix this CALTRANS created disaster:

  photo cycletrack4_zpsma9xiq3n.jpg

Of course nothing is set in stone yet. This is just the first design step, although a required one, and there is plenty of room in the process for Council Stooge Brandau to kill yet another project. That is, let your council member know how strongly you support safe bicycle infrastructure so that their shoulders aren't shrugged when the inevitable attempt at sabotage arises.


Oh, and as for the other part of the funding:
The funds will also allow for the preparation of a feasibility study for the construction of Class I bicycle trail segments along the canal banks of the Herndon Canal and Mill Ditch between the Shields Avenue and First Street intersection to the McKinley and Clovis Avenues intersection.
Don't get confused about the name, the Herndon Canal does not run along Herndon. The proposed trail would go here:

 photo cycletrack7_zpsqx9pagol.jpg

Building trails alongside canals is a no-brainer. In this case, the council isn't the obstacle (as it doesn't threaten their precious car-lanes), but the irrigation district, which controls the right of way, isn't eager to have people share their land. 

 photo cycletrack8_zpsecwf6flf.jpg

 photo cycletrack9_zpsj91ndprx.jpg



If it was up to me, every canal in the region would go from looking like this:
 photo 20120206_154912_zpsybo0ovoh.jpg

To looking like this:
 photo canal render_zpsxax5um6p.jpg

Hopefully the feasibility study agrees.


Oh, and as for that post I'm writing on the Smart and Final project? I hope to have it up this week, if not Sunday. It's not good news though, not at all.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Don't miss the giant Catacomb Party this weekend!

The Fulton Mall is going to be packed to the brim this weekend (Saturday, April 4) for a large free (free!) music festival, known as the Catacomb Party, and you won't want to miss out on it.


 photo catacomb3_zpsrd27pc0n.jpg
A scene from the 2013 edition, http://www.catacombparty.com/

This will be the third edition of the party, and will be by far the biggest one yet. The first edition was in 2012 with a single stage, and I posted a review with some pictures here. It was repeated in 2013, after expanding to 5 stages, before taking 2014 off so the organizers could return bigger and better than ever.
 
This time around, the party has moved from in front of what was the Fresno Brewing Company (now Peeve's) to the Mariposa Mall area, which is the central square of the Fulton Mall. That's usually where the big stage is set up for the Cinco de Mayo festivities, and is where the Ice Skating Rink pops up during the winter.

There will be multiple stages for this edition - 9 total, and is spread out to include acts at the south end of the mall at the Tioga Beer Garden, and also north inside of Peeve's. The main action will be in the central square area, where the music starts at at noon and runs until 11pm.

Here is the lineup:

 photo catacomb1_zpsoogizfwu.png

And the map:

 photo catacomb2_zpskwrsfusn.png

Google Maps Link

Aside from music, look forward to a collection of the town's best food trucks, and other vendors.

 photo catacomb4_zpsm1zpnscs.png

Sadly, if the destruction of the mall goes through this fall as planned by the city, this will be the last chance to catch this kind of festival. Even if they try again in 2017 by closing the street, with no trees and limited structure to sit on, it won't be nearly as pleasant.

As is always the case in Fresno, parking downtown on weekends is free. The enormous underground garage provides the best car temperature, but I like the Broadway lot by Hotel Fresno and the IRS for quick access.  I don't know if I Bike Fresno is doing their valet service, but there are plenty of racks on the mall to park your bike. Sub-par bus service will be provided by FAX. 

Check out the party website for more details:
http://www.catacombparty.com/


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fresno's Warehouse Row Project

As you may have guessed, I've been rather busy lately, and have not had much time for posts. I hope to remedy that in the near future, and do have a dozen+ ideas in line.

In the mean time, here's an interesting look at a downtown Fresno project that went under my radar: Warehouse Row.

The project is just down the block from the Amtrak Station, and walking distance to City Hall and the Convention Center.

 photo awarehouse_zpsorqyijkc.png

There are three historic warehouses on that block, built between 1903 and 1910.

From Historic Fresno:

The Warehouse Row Buildings consist of three architecturally and historically significant buildings, the Wormser Warehouse, the Western Meat Company packing plant, and the Fresno Consumers Ice Company building. These structures, all of which date from the first decade of the twentieth century, reflect the growth spurred on by the construction of the Santa Fe Railroad and the emergence of Fresno as an important agricultural center. 
Follow the link for a lot more detail on their history.

Well, the buildings are currently being renovated, with some additional office space being added.

Apparently one of them was renovated in 2012:

 photo awarehouse2_zpszmhu0aos.jpg
Vintage Fresno has some renders of the current additions, and some recent construction pictures:

 photo awarehouse3_zpsrcdnenqy.jpg
 photo awarehouse4_zpsb7egicbm.jpg
Be sure to visit Vintage Fresno for some additional images.

I'll be sure to catalog it in any future construction updates I do.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are public electric car chargers finally coming to Fresno?

It's amazing to think that almost three years ago, I wrote about Fresno finally getting its first public electric car charging station. As the region with the worst air quality in the country, the lack of support for electric vehicles was alarming.

And here we are in 2015, and the situation is almost the same as it was in 2012!

In that post, I wrote about how the first public car charging installation was coming to Blackbeard's. Well three years later, it hasn't actually happened. Here's what progress looked like last month:

 photo IMG_1183_8202_zpsefhbxtfd.jpg

The solar panels were never installed, nor was the charging station.

To be fair to Blackbeard's, they're a mini-golf and arcade place, where revenue arrives in the form of quarters. But how are everybody else doing?

Here's what the charging map looked like in 2012....two Nissan dealerships.

 

Here is what it looks like today.

 photo ev1_zpsfaazwrbk.jpg

Good amount of growth right? Well, not really. Other dealerships got in on the action (Toyota, Fiat, Mercedes)  but it's unfair to count them, because they exist primarily to charge their cars for test drives. There's also an RV park shown, and a couple that are only available to employees of the company (Pelco, and Air District), which means they're not really public.

So removing those out, we are left with...

 photo ev2_zpsh9wf6vdg.jpg

Two Best Westerns, a highway rest stop. a DMV, a hospital and a gas station. A grand total of 6 public charging stations in a metro area with 1 million people.

That's shameful.

For comparison, here's the significantly smaller Santa Cruz

 photo ev3_zpsyhnognkt.jpg

Obviously, places like San Francisco are on a completely different level. You can explore the country with this cool website: http://www.plugshare.com/#

Why are public chargers important? Because so many people will never buy an electric vehicle due to range anxiety. You can drive almost anywhere in the world and know you will find a gas station, but the fear of running out of power can be enough to scare someone away from a non-polluting vehicle. This is even more true because their range is so much less than a gas car.

To truly be wildly adopted, chargers are needed everywhere. And unlike gas stations, they need to be in places that people plan on parking in anyway, like the mall or a favorite restaurant.

Fortunately, a solution may be coming, as announced last month:

Pacific Gas and Electric Company asked state regulators for permission to build an estimated 25,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers at sites across its service area in Northern and Central California. If approved, this program would be the largest deployment of EV charging stations in the country.

The chargers would be located at commercial and public locations, including multi-family dwellings, retail centers, and workplaces. Approximately 10 percent of the chargers would be installed to support disadvantaged communities. PG&E would also provide tools and educational materials for site hosts and customers to learn about the benefits of electric vehicles.
PG&E
 One would assume this means a good deployment in Fresno.

However, there's reason to be worried. When Walgreens announced a nationwide roll-out, Fresno was excluded.

And Tesla loves to trumped their super high speed charging network.

Superchargers are free connectors that charge Model S in minutes instead of hours. Stations are strategically placed to minimize stops during long distance travel and are conveniently located near restaurants, shopping centers, and WiFi hot spots. Each station contains multiple Superchargers to help you get back on the road quickly.
Tesla
Here's their network as it exists today, and with all planned 2015 locations.

 photo ev4_zpsnx1d4ayt.jpg

But look closely, and you'll see the only charger in the Central Valley is on I-5, at the Harris Ranch store and rest stop. Nothing along the 99 at all.

Tesla thinks their car buyers will never set foot in Fresno, Bakersfield, or the National Parks. Hopefully PG&E doesn't limit their deployment in the same manner.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Streetsblog Looking for Fresno Writer!

If you would have asked me previously which would most likely come to Fresno, Streetsblog or Jetblue, I would have guessed Jetblue (but not seriously).

And yet on Friday this happened:

Following the launch of Streetsblog in Texas, Ohio, Saint Louis, and the Southeast, we have more good news to bring. Starting in early April, Streetsblog will launch its newest news site, Streetsblog California.

As part of the grant from The California Endowment that will allow us to launch the new Streetsblog, we’ll be hiring a writer in Fresno to cover the Livable Streets beat in the Central and San Joaquin Valleys.

Part-Time Writer for Streetsblog California
Job Description
We are looking for a professional journalist for a part-time position based in Fresno or elsewhere in the Central Valley to be a local correspondent for Streetsblog California. The position will be expected to provide regular coverage of local transportation projects including but not limited to bicycle and pedestrian planning, transit service, high speed rail, urban planning, and other issues.
Streetsblog

With 8 counties and close to 4 million residents, the San Joaquin Valley has a lot to write about. Expanding the definition to the Central Valley, which adds Sacramento and areas north, and you get 6.5 million people and the following metros:

  • Sacramento Metropolitan Area (2,527,123)
  • Fresno Metropolitan Area (930,450)
  • Bakersfield Metropolitan Area (839,361)
  • Stockton Metropolitan Area (696,214)
  • Modesto Metropolitan Area (518,522)
  • Visalia-Porterville Metropolitan Area (449,253)
  • Merced Metropolitan Area (259,898)
  • Hanford-Corcoran Metropolitan Area (153,765)
  • Madera Metropolitan Area (152,925)

Transportation-wise, that allows for coverage on the nations first real High Speed Rail line, two of the most popular Amtrak lines in the country, attempts at BRT, light rail in Sacramento, and commuter rail. Never mind bike and pedestrian news including plenty of good and bad news. Throw in Davis (unsure where Davis gets classified) and you have one of the premiere bike towns in the country.

It's also an area that needs more coverage.

The Streetsblog network includes only two blogs in the San Joaquin valley - this one, and the Fresno Bicycle Coalition, which hasn't updated in almost two years.

 photo blogmap_zpsmlmwyguj.png

The Bay Area, on the other hand, has dozens.

It will be great to see the area get more attention on widely-read platform, as a significant gap does exist. 



Oh and as for Jetblue, they recently made the surprise announcement of direct service from Boston to Sacramento,  on a seasonal basis for now.

Nonstop flights begin June 18 and will run through Sept. 7. JetBlue will fly four flights a week (Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays) on Airbus A320 aircraft. JetBlue also flies from Sacramento to its biggest hub at New York JFK and to Long Beach, Calif.
JetBlue's service will give Sacramento its first-ever regularly scheduled airline service to Boston, according to The Sacramento Bee.

"We have been trying to get nonstop service to Boston for many years and are thrilled that JetBlue has decided to invest resources in this route," John Wheat, Sacramento County Director of Airports, adds to the Bee.

The new Boston route will be a red-eye in the eastbound direction, departing Sacramento at 9:40 p.m. and landing in Massachusetts at 5:59 a.m., all times local. The westbound route will depart Boston at 5:20 p.m. and land in California at 8:49 p.m., all times local.
USA Today
 Last month Jetblue also expanded into Reno, adding service from JFK
JetBlue Airways today announces it will be the only airline to offer nonstop service between Nevada's Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) and the U.S. East Coast as it launches service from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) on May 28, 2015. Reno-Tahoe will be the airline's 89th destination and is among a number of new JetBlue routes in the West.

"A nonstop link between Reno-Tahoe International Airport and New York City is long overdue. JetBlue is pleased to provide the only direct service linking the East Coast to an airport that is the gateway to so many great year-round destinations in the Reno-Tahoe region. Customers will finally have easy access to Reno, beautiful Lake Tahoe, the great historic town of Truckee, Donner Lake, Tuolumne River and the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountain range -- home to Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon, Sequoia National Park and two National Monuments," said James Hnat, JetBlue's General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal & Government Affairs.
Yahoo News
I wouldn't exactly cite Reno as being close to Yosemite and Kings Canyon though...

Now, Reno gets more attention than Fresno, thanks to Tahoe and all the ski resorts. For comparison, Reno sees 3.5 million passengers a year, vs well under a million in Fresno. So while I wouldn't expect a flight from Fresno to Boston or NYC any time this century, I think Jetblue using one of their Embraer plans for a more local flight could happen one day. Maybe to Burbank, Long Beach, San Diego or as far away as Portland?

Who knows. But Streetsblog came to Fresno, so anything can happen.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Old Town Clovis Bike Trail Missing Gap Complete!

I've been wanting to share these exciting pictures for some time now, but had serious internet issues at home that caused my picture uploads to keep failing. Fortunately the internet company has finally fixed the problem. The pictures are no longer hot off the presses, but they're still very exciting, and I haven't seen any pictures posted elsewhere.


The longest bike trail in the Fresno area runs from Riverpark, up along Shepherd, and then down across Clovis, ending south of Sierra Vista Mall. It's a great recreational asset, a lot of fun to ride, and great for commuting too. It's known as the Sugar Pine Trail and also the Old Town Trail.

Originally it was a rail line, which is why it cuts across town. Sadly, at some point after the rail line was abandoned, and before the bike trail was built, Clovis allowed a parking lot to be built across the right of way near Old Town. That meant that for over a decade, there was a gap in the trail.

The gap wasn't particularly onerous - a two block detour on a quiet street with bike lanes. Unfortunately, there was zero signage indicating that the trail continued, and while the bike lanes were fine for me, they're a no-go for many riders. Not too many families riding with kids on training wheels would be comfortable on an on-street bike lane.



You can find an extensive picture review I did of the previous conditions here.

The gap before, this is where the path suddenly ended coming from the south:



What you had to do at the southern end:




Northern end was much worse:


The solution was obvious. I made these in 2012.




And that's almost exactly what they built!

In September 2013, the city approved plans to build a connection.

In April 2014, the plans were released.


Construction happened during the fall.  Overall, the trail looks great, except for one very significant flaw...Let's take a look!

Riding from the south, we approach the area...

 photo IMG_1286_8688_zpsbxisrfxd.jpg

 Almost there...

 photo IMG_1287_8689_zpszloslfdj.jpg

And there it is! The old crosswalk stays the same, but now the trail continues beyond. Oddly, the building that was on the lot has disappeared.

 photo IMG_1291_8693_zpsatrvbd8y.jpg

Visibility continues to be poor approaching the crosswalk though, but that was always the case:

 photo IMG_1290_8692_zps81g0gl7t.jpg

And there we go. Unlike other sections of trail, here they decided to separate the two directions of travel with trees and lights. It's a shared space, also used as a sidewalk. However, aside from Big Hat Days and Rodeo Days, one never finds people on the sidewalk here, so conflicts won't be an issue. 

 photo IMG_1292_8694_zpswxzfjyn7.jpg

Good, wide ramp.

 photo IMG_1293_8695_zpsefqom50a.jpg

New lights...don't really fit any scheme though. odd choice.

 photo IMG_1294_8696_zpsdnjrr7od.jpg

Benches and trash cans added in center area

 photo IMG_1295_8697_zps6a6urdzx.jpg


One still needs to be careful on the trail due to driveway crossings

 photo IMG_1296_8698_zpsmh2z2hvh.jpg

 photo IMG_1297_8699_zpsgvbzpzva.jpg

Water fountain is conveniently between both travel directions. Also, make note of how close the lights are to each other. Near the end of the post, I have pictures of them at night. 

 photo IMG_1298_8700_zpsptohe7rf.jpg

I wasn't the only user

 photo IMG_1299_8701_zpsv5s1xgn6.jpg

Halfway down, there's a T-intersection. The good news is, they DID built one ramp. The bad news is, they only built one, and decided not to paint a crosswalk. The current planning/engineering team at Clovis does not believe in crosswalks, and actually removed three on Clovis Avenue.

 photo IMG_1301_8703_zpsbdmlqq7x.jpg


Stepping back, you can see they built a bulb out for the crosswalk

 photo IMG_1300_8702_zpsq2d08bj7.jpg

Ramp is fine, but no crosswalk

 photo IMG_1303_8705_zpswmuhgltz.jpg

The other crosswalk, not so good

 photo IMG_1304_8706_zpsu71ws4fi.jpg

 photo IMG_1305_8707_zpsgdnohkq4.jpg

 The other side of the street got sidewalk extensions as well, but they couldn't be bothered to orient the ramps properly

 photo IMG_1331_8733_zpsbgui7val.jpg


Continuing on...

 photo IMG_1306_8708_zps9mukxzhd.jpg

They built the path right up to the existing building. However, see those garage doors?

 photo IMG_1307_8709_zpsptsbciel.jpg

Apparently they're not used, as the curb cuts were eliminated!

 photo IMG_1309_8711_zpstl5hbf6m.jpg

Now we get to 3rd street, where a new crossing was built, and yes, a painted crosswalk. However, they installed that idiotic sign that contradicts state law (traffic is required to stop for crosswalk users).

 photo IMG_1313_8715_zpsi1an5hbz.jpg

Brief detour...

They used the opportunity to modernize the other ramp, and add some landscaping. Sadly, they didn't bother to orient the ramp in the proper direction, as requested (but not required) by ADA

 photo IMG_1312_8714_zpsywetbvkt.jpg

Even the area across the street saw some substantial addition, and the road was made narrower!

Compare before (use utility pole as reference to width)

 photo oldtown1_zpscljes0dx.png

and now

 photo IMG_1314_8716_zps8lcfdxw3.jpg

Shame the utility poles weren't removed.

Ahem, back to the brand new crossing...

There's new signage for drivers, and you can see the road narrow on both sides

 photo IMG_1315_8717_zpspbq8dovc.jpg

 photo IMG_1317_8719_zpsejumohss.jpg

But they really should have used zebra striping, as recommended by modern design guidelines. The transverse lines are barely visible.

 photo IMG_1318_8720_zpsxtetmad1.jpg

The turn is rather sharp, but there is space, and the ramp is well built. Very wide.

 photo IMG_1319_8721_zpsprhlsxyd.jpg

There is one, very, very serious problem with the crossing though.

Remember all the lights on the trail? Yeah, none here. Zero lights for the road crossing, in any direction. It's recklessly irresponsible design, and I have some pictures at the end showing it at night. Any pedestrian or cyclist attempting to cross here after dark will be invisible.

Anyway, the new trail continues on this side of the road

 photo IMG_1320_8722_zpsbs7rji1y.jpg

 photo IMG_1321_8723_zpsla2ohvnz.jpg

And connects with where the trail used to suddenly end right here (you can see the different concrete patterns).

 photo IMG_1322_8724_zpsxk2dobpe.jpg

The trail continues for many miles that way...

 photo IMG_1323_8725_zpsci5bz5tb.jpg

Looking back, the trail used to spit you out here

 photo IMG_1326_8728_zpsky9jess0.jpg

And also looking back, we see the crossing from the other direction

 photo IMG_1324_8726_zpsqcxf0cbw.jpg

 photo IMG_1327_8729_zpsre1ms7ep.jpg


So overall, the new trail connection looks very good. Attractive, wide, plenty of amenities, and connects properly in both directions. The driveways are a big shame, and one needs to be careful, but heavens forbid the city lose parking spots for the trail where the right of way used to be. It would be nice to see additional signage at the driveways to warn motorists, but I don't see it being a big issue.

Except for that one potentially fatal flaw: zero lighting at the new crosswalk.

Let's take a look at the trail at night. The main trail itself is very well lit, much more so than any other section of the trail actually.(Pictures taken on automatic settings, no manipulation on computer).

 photo IMG_1628_9030_zps1actqfei.jpg

 photo IMG_1629_9031_zpsnuwzobji.jpg

From across the street: 

 photo IMG_1636_9038_zpso4ldfrhi.jpg

Unfortunately the lights point up. This contributes to light pollution and creates shadows below it, which is a poor purchasing choice. However, the lights are still better than any other trail section in the county.

 photo IMG_1631_9033_zpsy7kgnqlu.jpg

 photo IMG_1632_9034_zpshgdkctuy.jpg

The crosswalk on 4th (the t-intersection) has a streetlight, so the lighting is ok.

 photo IMG_1634_9036_zpsbogs3mgu.jpg

 photo IMG_1635_9037_zpsynl8t5en.jpg

But now we reach the crosswalk for 3rd. See any difference?

 photo IMG_1640_9042_zpskowzaxic.jpg

Lets take a step back to compare that again...

 photo IMG_1637_9039_zpsnmcvjnfy.jpg

Look where the lighting ends...right where it's needed most!

 photo IMG_1639_9041_zpsit5fulac.jpg

Seriously?

 photo IMG_1641_9043_zpszyrvmhf9.jpg

 photo IMG_1642_9044_zpslwngtpbl.jpg

 photo IMG_1644_9046_zpsxdgiid4j.jpg

The section of trail on 3rd has zero lighting too

 photo IMG_1643_9045_zpsltuydjz8.jpg

Until you get to the little rest area (was there before)

 photo IMG_1645_9047_zpsuuz7zko6.jpg

Incidentally, this is how most of the existing trail is lit. There are lights, but set way too far apart.This is an existing section of trail from before.

 photo IMG_1646_9048_zpspmofivhn.jpg

....but the real problem is where the cars are

 photo IMG_1648_9050_zpsi0krfrv6.jpg

Extremely dangerous.

 photo IMG_1650_9052_zps2rl0spj3.jpg

I keep forgetting to write to the city, but I will to see how they plan on fixing this. I encourage others to do the same.The new trail is great, but the lack of lights at the crosswalk ruins it.

The worst part is, I did mentioned this to the city back in 2013, when the plans were still in design. They said they would "look into it".