Fresno State, officially California State University, Fresno, has for decades been a driving university. The campus arrived at its current location in 1956, and at the time it was located far from the city. That was intentional – with agriculture as a core mission, the University purposely surrounded itself with farms. Even today, the 388-acre main campus is attached to the 1,011-acre University Farm. As such, one was expected to drive to campus. Especially because students came from all over the Central Valley.
Less than a month ago, I noted that LA hired a pedestrian czar, and one of her first duties was to begin installing continental (ladder-style, or zebra) crosswalks at dangerous intersections. I called on Fresno to follow suit, both in hiring a bike/ped expert, and in beginning an inexpensive, but highly effective process of converting crosswalks to the more visible style.
A continental crosswalk in downtown LA
Well, according to a local TV station, LA has upped their game.
Last year, Murphy, along with former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
announced a project to test the system by upgraded 50 of the most
dangerous intersections, including 7th Street and Alvarado Street,
Hollywood Blvd and Highland Avenue, Slauson Avenue and Western Avenue,
as well as others.
Nothing says “please ride public transit!” like missing a train or bus because someone has decided that it’s of the utmost importance that your backpack be swabbed every morning on your way to work.
What better way to get people to switch from the privacy of their automobile to shared transportation than adding fear, annoyance and delays into the morning routine.
And in 2012, those unnecessary security-theater checkpoints get to roam further into your life, thanks to a funding bill Obama just signed.
I’ve talked about road diets a few times in this blog, most recently when I attended a meeting held by a councilman in Fresno concerning a proposed diet in his district. He wanted to give residents the opportunity to express their concerns about taking a 4 lane road (+undefined parking space) into a 3 lane road, 1 each way, and 1 for turning, and a couple of bike lanes.
Today I got to see a real world example of the enormous safety benefits a road diet provides….or really, the consequences of keeping the dangerous road design of the past.
Jarrett Walker of Human Transit today posted about an aspect of the San Francisco cable car system that troubled him.
The gist of his post was about the way in which the cable cars do not have stations, but they stop in the middle of the road, and passengers cross an active lane of traffic to board. What’s even more interesting is that because of the hills, many of the “stops” are smack in the middle of an intersection.
Jarrett was concerned that during said stop, traffic on the road the cable car is using is given a green light, even though passengers are alighting in the middle of the lane. While state law makes it clear that passing a cable car when stopped is illegal, he is concerned about the mixed message the giant green signal gives.
This past weekend, I attended a college football game at the LA Coliseum with family to watch USC beat UCLA by an enormous margin. With a kickoff at 7:15pm, the game didn’t end until around 10:30pm. That means we did not hit the highway to leave LA until 11:30pm, for the 4 hour drive back to Fresno.
During that drive, a realization hit me like a wall. A wall of fog. Bad fog. Those who think it gets foggy in San Francisco or London have no idea what it’s like to experience the Central Valley’s Tule fog, which can decrease visibility to zero.