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.

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

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This image shows the area under construction in August.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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You can see the bike lanes will be painted soonish

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Moving closer to the roundabout

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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:

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Fancher Creek:

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

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Little to complain about here

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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So remember the previous handicap sign?

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

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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.

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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!


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

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

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I feel like the light was improperly placed...

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

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Not done yet

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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.

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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.

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You can see the right turn lane is separated by concrete

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Going back to the car, a little annoyance.

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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

4 comments:

  1. How can I share a document with you? Email?

    I have the schematics for all of this development. I do the marketing for Lance-Kashian. He developed this.

    Lots to share for this area.

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    1. Sure, I'd love to see what you have. Also, if you work with their marketing, could you look into the Fancher Creek website? It hasn't worked properly in years....which says a lot about the project. You can reach me at jamesinclairv at the gmail.

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    2. Can you share the schematics with everyone? We are interested.

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    3. Matt, it's essentially your run of the mill strip mall. However, no work has been done for yet another year.

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