Month: May 2011

Riding the bus in Fresno (FAX). Step 2: Can I get there from here?

What a lovely memorial day weekend. Perfect weather on Monday for being outside.

Anyway, continuing my post about FAX.

My key search was to find how to answer the following question:
“what buses go near me, where do they go, and what times do they run”

We’ve already established that the system map isn’t very good. It’s not terrible, but it fails at the street level. You can see what bus goes from x part of town to y part of town, but finding out where on earth the bus actually stops? Not so easy. And finding out what streets the buses run on downtown or at major transfer centers, is impossible. But I guess once you know what route covers your part of town, you can move onto another tool to find out where exactly the bus runs. Click to read more!

Quick look at downtown Fresno apartment construction

My original goal when starting this blog was to post every other day. Well, I’m obviously failing at that. I’ll try to get part 2 of the FAX post this weekend.

Meanwhile, take a look at some picture’s taken today of construction going on in downtown Fresno. These are new apartments being built, which is significant because downtown Fresno didn’t see a single new residential building between something like 1980 and 2005 (anyone know the exact dates?). In the future, I’ll try and make a post detailing what has been built and what is going to be built next in that region. Click to read more!

Riding the bus in Fresno (FAX). Step 1: Where do the buses go?

FAX = Fresno Area Express

So a few days ago I said I would be talking about the not-so-great bus system in Fresno. Apparently, whenever I say “tomorrow” I get delayed, so I will no longer be saying that.

Anyway, let’s begin by looking at the way a new rider might approach riding the system: Online.

What are the routes? How do I get to work? What is the fare? How does one pay? Can I get home?

The rider expects to find all these answers quickly online.

So the first interesting note (and, well, fail), is that FAX does not have its own website. It’s a department in the city website, alongside trash collection, parks and council meetings. Click to read more!

Was my gas price prediction right?

On April 11th, I made an easy 1-month prediction for where gas prices would be. I said:

Today, April 11, 2011
National: 3.78
Fresno: 4.09

May 4:
National: 4.04
Fresno: 4.45

May 15:
National: 3.99
Fresno: 4.39

How correct was I?

According to
May 4 was
National: 3.955
Fresno: 4.22

So my national guess was pretty damn close (5 cents off), but my “california premium” was too high.

For May 15, I forecast that gas prices would go DOWN. Controversial, considering memorial day approaches. I predicted a massive 17 cent drop in Fresno and only a 5 cent drop nationally.

How close was I? Click to read more!

Fresno has the 5th best transit system in the country? Um, no.

Institutes love to pull out lists. They spend some time putting some data into a spreadsheet, look at what is spit out, and then declare winners and losers.

But they forget to use an ounce of common sense to see if the data they’re choosing to use is relevant, and if the output is reasonable.

The Brookings Institution recently released a report ranking the transit systems in the country, and their prime metric seems to be what percentage of jobs are transit accessible.

While at first, that metric seems to make sense…’s really dumb.

A city of 5,000, contained within 10 blocks with a single bus running a loop every 60 minutes may well have 100% transit accessibility. But if your town is only 10 blocks big…then walking or biking will get you to your destination faster than relying on a loop route on an hourly schedule. Click to read more!

Housing developers skimping on sidewalk ramps and curb cuts?

Alternate title:
Cutting corners by not cutting corners.

Housing developers, like all other businesses are primarily concerned with profits. There are two ways to make more money; by cutting costs or by increasing revenue. Housing developers are the masters of both. Cheap lighting fixtures, paper thin walls, and budget carpets? Check. Granite counters with a 50% profit margin? Of course. Energy efficient appliances, sold to you at twice the price that Sears would? The newest rage.

However, what happens inside the home is really only the business of the home buyer. After all, if they don’t like the carpet, they can change it. If they want to install their own counters, they can do that. As long as the home meets earthquake and fire codes, the developer should be free to sell homes without walls, if they believe that’s what the market wants. Click to read more!

Fresno joins the list of Bicycle Friendly Communities

There is an organization called the League of American Bicyclists which awards cities for bike friendliness. Like all lists, it’s far from perfect, but it is a good place to start.

Fresno, for the first time, is now in the Bronze level. Clovis, is not on the list.

So what changed? Well, in the past year, Fresno has passed a bike master plan (although it’s required by the state…) and has implemented a series of road diets, mostly downtown, which add bike lanes (and a center turning lane). The gap in the Fresno-Clovis rail trail was finally fixed.

While these additions are good, they’re not much progress from the past. The fact is, most major streets in Fresno already have bike lanes, with the notable exception of the 4 busiest commercial corridors (Shaw, Blackstone, Herndon, Kings Canyon). While Fresno has had miles upon miles of bike lanes for years, cities like Boston were awarded their status for going from zero to 5. Click to read more!

Eaton Trail – Existing Conditions

A few days ago, I noted the proposed expansion of the Eaton Trail.

Here are some pictures of the existing trail, which welcomes pedestrians, bikes, and even horses. The path overlooks the river and provides a scenic walking trail. The only thing lacking are more trees for shade.

Bike commuters may find the trail a suitable alternative to the straighter, but heavily trafficked (at 50mph) Friant Road.

All pictures taken by me last winter. Conditions today are the same.

Pictures were taken in the area bounded by the yellow box.











Google Map Maker review

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’ve been trying to use the new google map maker feature which allows everyone to edit what you see in google maps. You can add/remove retail listings, streets, bike lanes etc.

Previously, you would right click the map, select “report a problem” and then explain what was wrong or missing. Now you get the “fun” of doing it yourself.

When it comes to something like a change in roads, doing it yourself makes sense. Previously, you’d have to explain exactly what was wrong, and hope the person at google got it. Now, you make all the changes, and submit it for review. Click to read more!

My Maps (google) downgraded?

A few years ago, I used google maps for a few projects. Recently, I’ve tried to use it again to make some new maps….but it seems like two major features have disappeared!

1) Finding other user created maps.
Before starting my map, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t redundant, so I wanted to see if anyone else had created one. Well, turns out the search feature is gone! Now the ONLY way to find a user created map is to be linked to it!

2) Opening two maps at the same time. Say for example, you wanted to create a transit map. You could create a map with bus routes, and a separate map with subway routes. To see them overlayed over each other, you would just click a box indicating the maps you wanted to open. Well it’s gone now! It seems like now you can only open one map at a time, which means more clutter! Click to read more!