Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Clovis trail statue proposal, who is it really for?

The Fresno-Clovis rail-trail is essentially the one and only bicycle highway in the area. There are a couple of other trails, but it's the only one connecting important nodes. As such, it's pretty popular.

The trail passes through "downtown" Clovis, which is adjacent to the rodeo grounds. There is a section where the trail is sandwiched between parking and more parking. Most of the parking is used only for occasional events, like the rodeo, the cycling tour etc. For the majority of the year, it's empty.


This week, an item related to the trail was up for vote at the council.

Consider Approval - A request from the Clovis Rodeo Association for the Council to authorize staff to work with the Association for the use of City property, located at Rodeo Drive and the Clovis Old Town Trail regarding the placement of Public Art along the trail.
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Sounds good. Even though the trail is important, and the city always talks it up when advertising itself, it doesn't get much funding. Some art would be nice.

The issue, and of course there's an issue, is that the art appears to have been designed to delight folks entering the parking lot by car. While the statue is to be placed on the trail, the diagram included with the council documents indicated a design that hurts trail users.


If approved, the statue would be located on City property at Rodeo Drive and the Clovis Old Town Trail (see attached exhibits). The CRA board is requesting a lease agreement for this site between the CRA and the City of Clovis in the amount of $1.00 per year. The CRA believes placement of the statue at this site would enhance this public area. The location of the statue is in the area designated by Council as part of the "Heritage Walk Along the Old Town Trail" (Heritage Walk), which was set aside for artwork depicting Clovis' rich heritage. The proposed statue meets the criteria adopted by Council for artwork to be located on the Heritage Walk

It all sounds so good, but the proposed implementation is so poor.

The problem is the diagram included shows a statue essentially blocking the trail, and acting as a way to channelize arriving vehicles into a parking lot.

The Fresno-Clovis trail is like a bike highway. That means that for optimal transportation purposes, it should be straight, with gradual curves, and obviously nothing blocking the path.

As it exists now, the trail has a gradual curve at the rodeo entrance.

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The crossing of the minor street and parking is not well marked, but traffic is so low it's not an issue. For trail users, it's an easy curve. A crosswalk would be nice, but again, as it is now the trail works fine.


So what happens when we add some art?

The gradual curve becomes hard right turns. The statue blocks visibility. If curb ramps are created, it would make for an annoying and tight turn for those on bikes. Oh, and if I'm reading it right, the art naturally widens the road.

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Essentially, it would make things worse for those on bikes. Art is nice, but art should not be put in the center of the trail.


Here is what the proposal would probably look like (note that it appears that the road is widened).

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Now, the drawing is obviously just s sketch, but it speaks a lot to what they think of the trail. The person who drew the sketch sees the trail as a sidewalk, not as an important piece of transportation. The bigger problem is, as the sketch becomes a set of construction plans, the lack of through into how people actually ride bikes will probably remain.

Are you thinking that the sketch is meaningless, and that the final placement would obviously provide for a wide, smooth trail?

Well, look what Clovis approved last year, a trail with a terrible connection to an intersection. It looks lovely on satellite, and I'm sure it looked lovely in the plans, but it makes absolutely zero sense as a user trying to cross a street.

Instead of users making one soft turn onto the crosswalk, they must navigate four tight turns.

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If how bikes are actually ridden wasn't taken into any consideration just last year, what evidence do we have that it will be taken this year?



Details are important. In this case, the details are things like turn radius, curb ramp sizes etc.

Ignoring the details leads to situations like this other location (on the same trail) in which a traffic pole was placed on the curb ramp....and the push button was placed facing the highway instead of the trail.

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Besides being a pain for cyclists using the trail (trying to reach the button) it's an obvious ADA violation. That hasn't stopped it from never being fixed.

I hope this time, Clovis actually consults with someone who uses the trail, and doesn't just sign off on the art project because art is universally good.

The art should be designed to enhance the trail, not make things worse.

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