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...
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.
Visibility continues to be poor approaching the crosswalk though, but that was always the case:
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.
Good, wide ramp.
New lights...don't really fit any scheme though. odd choice.
Benches and trash cans added in center area
One still needs to be careful on the trail due to driveway crossings
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.
I wasn't the only user
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.
Stepping back, you can see they built a bulb out for the crosswalk
Ramp is fine, but no crosswalk
The other crosswalk, not so good
The other side of the street got sidewalk extensions as well, but they couldn't be bothered to orient the ramps properly
They built the path right up to the existing building. However, see those garage doors?
Apparently they're not used, as the curb cuts were eliminated!
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).
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
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)
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
But they really should have used zebra striping, as recommended by modern design guidelines. The transverse lines are barely visible.
The turn is rather sharp, but there is space, and the ramp is well built. Very wide.
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
And connects with where the trail used to suddenly end right here (you can see the different concrete patterns).
The trail continues for many miles that way...
Looking back, the trail used to spit you out here
And also looking back, we see the crossing from the other direction
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).
From across the street:
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.
The crosswalk on 4th (the t-intersection) has a streetlight, so the lighting is ok.
But now we reach the crosswalk for 3rd. See any difference?
Lets take a step back to compare that again...
Look where the lighting ends...right where it's needed most!
The section of trail on 3rd has zero lighting too
Until you get to the little rest area (was there before)
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.
....but the real problem is where the cars are
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".