|Fresno State in the 1950's|
However, much has changed since 1956. Fresno grew, and now the campus is completely surrounded by urban (or suburban) activity. The University has also grown tremendously, and now hosts a population of over 25,000 (students and staff). While commuter students still represent a large portion of the population, 8,000 students and 2,400 staff live within 5 miles of campus - an easy bicycle commute over perfectly flat land.
Unfortunately, campus officials have been slow to respond to these changes. For decades they've operated as a car-campus, and made no efforts to change that. As recently as 2012, the transportation plan was all about driving and parking. Remember this story?
Fresno State faculty members gathered Thursday to express dismay and confusion over the university's decision to chop down 160 mature trees, making room for 600 more parking spaces on the east side of campus.In that same article, I pointed out that the campus transportation mission appeared to be a tad bit focused on one, and only one thing:
Traffic Operations welcomes you to California State University, Fresno.Since then, the only other articles I've written about the campus have been:
Our goal is to provide you with safe and reliable access to our campus. We are dedicated to maintaining accessible, attractive and safe parking facilities.
Our objective is to manage parking resources efficiently, emphasizing customer service, so that students, faculty, staff and visitors are able to park without difficulty and lawfully.
We are always exploring new ideas and methods to improve our existing parking and transportation system, and we welcome any suggestions that you may offer. Please take advantage of the information provided on this web site and the services we offer so you can make the most of your campus experience.
- A 2014 plan to add bicycle lanes to Barstow - bike lanes which as of two weeks ago, still did not exist
- A critique of the Campus Pointe Shopping development adjacent to campus, namely, how the non-motorized transportation links to it sort of suck
- A news story on them adding electric vehicle charging stations
Is the focus on parking justified?
Due to the low price of parking (lowest in the entire State University system), and poor non-motorized connections onto campus, there is indeed a strong demand for parking. That's induced demand for you.
However, after adding 600 spaces just three years ago, there are again from the student body about congested parking lots. A popular request to build a parking garage won't solve the problem, and would be extremely expensive (estimated at $40 million).
Aside from a high expense of accommodating more and more drivers, that focus on the automobile has created a nasty little problem. More cars need bigger roads, which in turn result in elevated danger for everyone else. Check out this map showing the past 5 years of collisions involving bicycles (orange triangles), pedestrians (red circles), and skateboards (brown).
Notice that intersection on the bottom left? The one where they can't even fit in all the little colission triangles?
Well, when you make pedestrians cross the equivalent of 10 lanes of traffic to get to class, they get hit.
And then they probably decide that maybe they should drive instead, creating more demand for parking, and more demand for driving.
Oh, and note the top right of the crash map? All those little bicycle triangles?
They're getting hit here:
While this roundabout absolutely improved safety for drivers, it failed to accommodate bicyclists, as stated by state design guidelines. I pointed that out in my critique of the Campus Pointe development.
Anyway, after apparently conceding that you can't build your way out of congestion and parking demand, it looks like change has finally arrived at Fresno State. And not just a small change: a wave of changes meant to encourage alternative modes of transportation, all happening within the past 6 months.
- New campus shuttle bus
- Partnerships creating bus service to Visalia and north to Yosemite
- Free bus passes on FAX and Clovis Stageline for all students and staff
- Scramble crosswalk on Cedar
- Bicycle barns (secure bicycle parking)
- Bicycle maintenance stations
- High quality Active Transportation Master Plan prepared by Alta
Reduce parking demand!