Category: Uncategorized

If high viz is so important, why don’t US police lead by example?

It’s that time of the year again, when you leave work at your usual time and suddenly get hit with a blast of 10pm darkness. Although the thermometer says “perfect biking and walking weather,” our corporate overlords demand we work our regular hours, which happen to extend past sunset. As such, the evening commute becomes a nighttime affair.

Cue the “be visible” safety campaigns kicking into high gear. The Boston Globe has an article on being visible at night:

In self-defense, “push yourself into the driver’s awareness as much
as you can” by exploiting biological motion, said Jonathan Dobres, a
research scientist at MIT’s AgeLab. “Make yourself as big and bright and
reflective as you can. You’re really helping the brain of a driver
figure out, ‘Oh, that’s not a road sign, that’s a person moving
around.’ ”
Boston Globe Click to read more!

Tesla’s new Autopilot – not self-driving, and not so safe

Did you hear? Self-driving cars are here! Or at least that’s what the headlines suggested last week, as Tesla released an update for their pricey cars to enable a new “autopilot” system. As it turns out, the new system isn’t new – but the deployment is. And, unfortunately, that’s what makes it so dangerous. Tesla is setting expectations for their “autopilot” system much higher than what the car can actually do – and someone is probably going to get killed.

Let’s start by reviewing some of the Friday headlines:

  • Welcome to the self-driving car revolution: Tesla releases Autopilot patch (Computer World) 
  • Tesla rolls out self driving car software (Ft.com)  
  • Tesla cars gain self-driving sentience overnight (WaPo)
  • With New Software Rollout, Tesla Accelerates Toward Fully Self-Driving Cars (Recode)
  • Tesla amps up Model S self-driving capabilities with firmware update (Extreme Tech)

The Washington Post had an especially starry eyed (and factually incorrect) write up, which reads like a PR dream: Click to read more!

New Amtrak Award Valuation: Major downgrade for California passengers

When it comes to rewards points, a new press release is a frequent traveler’s worst nightmare. Enter Amtrak:

A simpler process and more flexible earning and redemption options will be hallmarks of Amtrak’s completely overhauled Guest Rewards program, set to be implemented January 2016.
Travel Pulse

Translation: If you ride Amtrak California frequently, you need to use your points before a massive devaluation hits in January.

We are confident this program combines what passengers want most — the ability to grow points earnings rapidly with the freedom to use those points in the way that best fits their individual travel needs.” Click to read more!

What developer Darius Assemi forgot in his editorial on how to fund road construction

Darius Assemi is the president of Granville Homes, one of the most prolific residential developers in the Fresno area (one which oddly doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry). According to his LinkedIn profile, he has been president for 6 years, and served as vice president for 25 years before that. The guy knows the Fresno market well, especially when it comes to selling single-family homes.

But how much does he know about funding our infrastructure? Let’s take a look at his Fresno Bee editorial on the subject. Here are his main points:

  • Deteriorating roads cost Californians $44 billion a year in repairs, accidents, time and fuel
  • Deferred repair costs exceeding $57 billion
  • Caused by diminishing purchasing power of gas tax
    • Not tied to inflation
    • More fuel efficient cars mean less gas taxes
    Funding solutions include:
    • Raising gas tax
    • Indexing gas tax to inflation
    • Increasing fees 
    • New usage based fee
    Cost solutions include:
    • Caltrans performance should be equal to or exceed private performance  
      • More efficient staffing 
      • Increased transparency 
      Only use gas tax for construction and maintenance of highways  CEQA exemption for roads using existing right-of-way Design-build projects  Multi-modal future

      Generally, it’s a pretty standard set of recommendations. The only big controversy is the “highway only” line for funding, although it appears he’s more concerned with the previous raid of the transportation fund to plug other budgets rather than eliminating all subsidies of mass transit. It is unclear if he also wants to eliminate that. As a suburban developer, I wouldn’t be surprised if transit didn’t even cross his mind when he penned his piece. Click to read more!

Google Sunroof launching in Fresno thanks to an engineer’s mom

Google has gone ahead and launched a really cool new program that shows you how much solar energy potential your rooftop has, how much money you could save, what size you should use, and what it will cost you.

They have a video explaining the project

Problem is, it’s only launching in three cities for now. 

Wouldn’t that be absolutely perfect for Fresno?  After all, the potential for solar energy is ENORMOUS and yet adoption has been so limited.

And wouldn’t you know it, Fresno is included (and most, but not all of Clovis, it ends at Temperance Avenue).

At the end, they explain that it is a limited launch at first. Boston, because that’s where the project team is based, the San Francisco Bay Area, because that’s where Google is, and Fresno “where one of our engineer’s mom is from” Click to read more!

A look at the Fulton Mall (de)construction diagrams

If you haven’t been paying attention, Fresno last year approved the removal of the 50-year old pedestrian mall in favor of a street for cars.

Well in under two weeks the construction bids are due. What that means is that the design has been completed (or is at least at 90%) and we can take a look at what will actually be built. I say actually being built because what we have seen previously were simply pretty renders. While renders capture the concept and some detail, they are subject to much change; what you see is rarely what you get.

These diagrams are dated July 1st, 2015, and were prepared by:
Landscape Architecture: RHAA Landscape Architects, of San Francisco
Civil: Provost & Pritchard, of Fresno
Structural and Electrical: Teter Engineers, of Fresno
Traffic: Peters Engineering Group, of Clovis
Fountains: Pacific Water Art, of Sunnyvale
Geotechnical: BSK Associates, of Fresno
Transportation: NelsonNygard, of San Francisco
Art: Architectural Resources Group, of San Francisco
Arborist: Hortscience, of Pleasanton
PR: Shared Spaces, of Los Angeles
Programming: MJM Management Group, of San Francisco Click to read more!

Fresno area trails to get a little bit longer

The Fresno area trail system is growing slowly, but every few months a new contract goes out to bid for a half mile or so here and another mile there.

A quick refresher on some recent construction:
Old Town Clovis Trail Gap Filled
New Clovis Trailhead 
Enterprise Trail Section

Here’s what has been approved this summer:

1)

Veteran’s Boulevard Trail, between Hayes and Polk, approved 7/16/2015.

Here’s an interesting one. Veteran’s Boulevard is a long-planned 6 lane highway to cut diagonally across the west side of Fresno. It is currently scheduled to begin construction in 2020, but it looks like a small trail section, which will parallel the highway, will open sooner. Click to read more!

Fresno’s bus ridership, 7 years of decline (and counting)

What happens when a city won’t stop growing, but the transit system doesn’t grow with it? The system becomes less useful. And the less useful the system is, the less riders will use it. Welcome to Fresno.

We know that bus ridership is down a tad nationwide, but in many cities, it is because riders have taken to trains. Unfortunately, that’s not possible in Fresno, where the bus is your one and only transit option. That means a decline in bus ridership indicates more driving, or worse, less trips being taken (i.e, people not being able to get to jobs).

I last looked at Fresno bus ridership in March of 2012 when ridership appeared to be on a scary downwards trend. Three years later, has it changed? Sadly, the answer is no. Click to read more!

Exciting infill development coming to Old Town Clovis!

Two new exciting projects are in the work for Old Town Clovis. One is an office/commercial development near the heart of Old Town, at Pollasky and Bullard. The second is a new residential project up Pollasky at Sierra, what could be considered the original suburbs of Old Town.

The commercial project will be coming to the old DMV lot, next to a brand new plaza built as a beautification project. The Fresno Bee reports:

Two local development companies will build commercial buildings next to the recently completed Centennial Plaza in Old Town Clovis, bringing more restaurants, retail and office space to the city’s growing urban center. Click to read more!

Don’t let the drought kill your trees!

Not a day goes by without the mention of the word drought in California. At this point, everyone understands how serious the problem is, and what steps need to be taken to help.

Yes, we need to save water, but more important, we need to use water wisely, and that means watering your trees to keep them alive.

Frequently you hear people talking about the evils of landscaping. In most cases, they’re right. Bright green lawns serve no purpose aside from aesthetics. Places to play? Theoretically, but outside of the 4th of July, I can’t ever remember seeing a neighbor play in their front lawn. Click to read more!