Tag: ADA

Fresno gets $2.2m for bus stop ADA upgrades

FAX, Fresno’s transit system, received a $2.2 million grant to build ADA upgrades at several stops around town. According to FAX:

The funding will provide an accessible location to wait for the bus and an accessible pathway for passengers to get to and from the sidewalk to a median bus island bus stop.  Improvements include:  adding or enlarging concrete bus stop landings, construction curb cuts, and adding new bus stop amenities such as shelters, benches and trash receptacles.

Fresno Area Express

The agency created a hilariously basic render of what these improvements could look like, which you can see at the top of this post. Click to read more!

Broadway streetscape project almost done, results are disappointing

It’s been almost three years since the project was announced, and now the Broadway streetscape project in downtown Fresno is almost done. The plan involved giving Broadway a small road diet, removing a center turn lane and one general lane to add angled parking on each side. The project included absolutely no bicycle accommodations (contrary to the master plan) but did add some amenities for pedestrians in the form of sidewalk extensions at intersections.

Sadly, the project has done many things wrong. The lack of attention to detail shows that Fresno does not have a planner that understands bicycle or pedestrian planning – or even basic ADA. Sort of shocking for a city of half a million. Let’s take a look.

Note: Pics are 2-3 weeks old, sorry for the delay in uploading them!

We start at Broadway and San Joaquin, where the reason behind the angled parking is made clear. GV Urban has broken ground on their latest downtown residential project, and they’re hungry for free parking.

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Their section of sidewalk is the only part that hasn’t been worked on, presumably due to the ongoing construction.

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Here across from the Rainbow Ballroom we see the new angled parking, and removal of two traffic lanes. Sadly, Fresno refused to use back-in angled parking, which is much safer.

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Looking south

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This intersection wasn’t exactly the best place to start. Sadly, there’s no curb extension here. I’m not sure why, but it was like the in the original plan, although a curb cut was removed. As it is now, no corner of this intersection will get a curb extension until GV Urban finishes their corner.

Moving along then, we find what a nicer bit of streetscaping looks like.
New sidewalks, landscaping, and a curb extensions. Also, notice the
drainage grates? This is a little odd, because even though they redid
the entire street, it looks like a retrofit job. I guess it was cheaper.

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However, now we start noticing problems. I mentioned last time how narrow the ramps were. Bare minimum for ADA – why?

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Compare to the width of the crosswalk. Why?

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 The added landscaping is nice, although I wish they had added more trees.

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So narrow. 

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This other intersection shows that vegetation is lacking. Looks like a future garbage collection area.

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And this is how the curb extensions make the crossing distances for pedestrians much shorter.

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For reference, this is how wide the street looked before

 

Aside from the narrow ramps, we encounter a serious problem.
Major ADA fail here. So you know those yellow rumble strips
(truncated domes)? Their purpose is to inform the blind that they are
exiting the pedestrian area and will be crossing somewhere with
vehicles. A single strip is needed at the edge. Just one.

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As
seen above, they’ve developed a rumble highway. This doesn’t make
things any easier for the blind, but it DOES make life very difficult
for those in wheelchairs, who must now cross FIVE strips, rather than
one.

Not to mention, it’s a huge waste of money, and again indicates that the Fresno planners have no idea what they’re doing. 

Seriously, wtf?

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Anyway, the new parking is being used by the residents of these apartments. Parking is free and unrestricted. For now, it does provide a benefit as it makes it obvious that people live here.

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As we arrive towards the northern end of the project, things get bad.

At Broadway and Yosemite, they haven’t painted any crosswalks at all. Huh, wasn’t this a pedestrian upgrade?

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Not only does this intersection have zero crosswalks, the new curb extensions explicitly restrict crossing from wheelchair users. This is a problem.

Under California law, an intersection exists where two streets cross. Like here. Also under California law, at every intersection, there are crosswalks where pedestrians have the right of way, marked or not.

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Fresno chose not the mark the crosswalks, but they also went out of their way and put landscaping in the way. What that means, is that people can legally cross – but the disabled cannot. It’s an ADA violation.

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I will email the city, and I guarantee they will get right on it – by putting up signed stating that the crosswalk is closed.

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 It’s 2014, is this kind of work acceptable?

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Walking back south again, we find more ADA issues

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And note that none of the crosswalks have been painted in the continental style. Why? This is the point of view of a driver, look at the crosswalks in the distance, they’re essentially invisible. Van Ness has continental crosswalks, why not Broadway?

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This is nice, glad they kept the existing tree and gave it more room

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Some sections further south have timed parking

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And another fail. No, not the badly striped crosswalks…the arrow.

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What the hell is that? I can’t even find it in the traffic manual. The closest sign is the W16-7P, but that’s a different shape. Is Fresno seriously installing non-compliant signage in a brand new project?

The standard sign for a pedestrian crossing is this, which is what should have been installed.

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More rumble strips at the end of the GV parcel…

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Showing the width of the ramp and the lack of bicycle accommodations

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So in summary:
-Narrow crosswalk ramps
-Incorrectly installed domes
-Zero lighting improvements
-Zero biking infrastructure
-Missing crosswalks
-No continental crosswalk marking
-Poor signage
-ADA violations
-Pull-in parking

+Nice landscaping
+Curb extensions are valuable
Overall, a disappointment. Three years late and they couldn’t even get it right. Maybe in 2060 they’ll take another swing at it.

Bonus GV urban:
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Yes Craig, the Fulton Mall is plenty accessible to the disabled

It was already a month ago that the Fresno City Council voted to demolish the Fulton Mall, and something really bothered me about that hearing which I’ve been meaning to write about. During the public comment period, Craig Sharton, the owner of Peeve’s Pub spoke in support of the removal. That was expected. What was unexpected was how he used his two minutes: by giving a ridiculous story that has no basis in reality. I’ve been meaning to write about his “point” but haven’t had time.

His short story was about two women who wanted to visit his restaurant. One of the women was disabled and relied on a wheelchair. Craig claims the women were unable to find any nearby street parking, and the mall made it impossible for them to access his store because it lacked direct vehicular access that the wheelchair-bound woman needed. He recommended they simply drive on the pedestrian mall and unload the wheelchair at his front door, and then the driver could park further away and walk. They did this, but stated they wouldn’t return due to the inconvenience.

He also noted the mall made receiving packages hard for the same reason. 

I was in awe at the elevated level of bullshit contained in under two minutes. 

For fifty years, access for vehicles to stores on the mall has not been a problem, because at the rear of every building is a vehicular alley. Packages and deliveries? No problem. Loading? No problem. It was designed that way for a reason.

The alley also provides access to ample parking – including dedicated handicap spots. Peeve’s Pub, like every other building on the mall, has entrances on both the front and back so patrons can exit where it’s most convenient to them.

There was zero need for anyone to drive on the mall. If immediate access to the door was required by the person in the wheelchair, then it was readily available on the alley side. I have frequented the location many times, and have used the rear door without issue to access the parking lot. Craig has owned the restaurant for many months, and surely is aware of the option.

In fact, Peeves has an EXTRAORDINARY amount of handicap parking within STEPS of the rear entrance.

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Four or so are in the alley, and at least an additional ten are in the public parking lot. The red arrow indicates the extremely short walk across the alley to the back entrance. Try parking that close to your destination in River Park.

Craig argued that by turning the mall into a street, his friend could have parked directly in front of the store.

Bullshit. The thing about downtown metered parking, in any successful downtown, is that it is scare. You’re never guaranteed a spot by the front door. The only way to guarantee a space available to handicapped patrons is to designate it as an exclusive space – something unlikely to happen because theres a TON of those spaces there already.

And even if those spaces didn’t exist, the friend could have driven down the alley, and unloaded the wheelchair there. On a main street, you’re never guaranteed a curbside spot to load and unload. In the alley, you have all the time you need.

It’s a shame that Craig felt the best way to support his vision was by relying on fairy tales. It’s not surprising, because the economic analysis and EIR also exist in the realm of fantasy, but at least this one was especially egregious because of how easy it is to fact check.

CVS addresses ADA violation … by further limiting pedestrian access to new store

Few major chain corporations out there actually listen to the customer. A year ago, I emailed some companies about their lack of bike racks. Rather than receive relevant replies about racks, I was told I was not being considered for a job. Seriously.

Earlier this year, I again sent along an email to CVS’s corporate HQ, but this time about a more serious matter: an apparent ADA violation. Unlike bike racks, an ADA violation can result in a swift lawsuit.

CVS listened; they replied by email, contacted me by phone, replied to my follow-up, and actually did some work on the ground to fix the problem.

But by “fix,” I mean “make so much worse”

—-

CVS has recently opened a brand new location in the “Fancher Creek” development, a transit-oriented village for south Fresno in the works for over a decade, which had been stalled since the housing bubble broke. CVS’s pop up like weeds in the Central Valley, so the only reason I paid it any attention (see bottom of that post) was because the area was supposed to be under some kind of walking, biking and transit master plan. I was interested to see if CVS did ANYTHING to cater to the transit village that is supposed to pop up around them, rather then dropping in the same store they’d built at every other intersection in town.

Side note: No transit serves this transit-oriented village.

During my walking tour, I noted that this brand new development, built on perfectly flat land, on what used to be an empty lot violated the “equal access” bit of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The law, which has affected commercial properties since 1992, has some exceptions for historic structures and the like, but obviously this brand new development wasn’t excused from compliance.

Quick background

Basically, for commercial spaces, ADA has two portions:

The very well defined technical stuff, such as max ramp slope, min aisle width, sign height, availability of railings, turning areas, etc etc. The kind of stuff you can go out with a ruler and note if the facility complies or does not. As you can imagine, because a hard and clear series of rules are set out, it’s easy to comply, for both companies and contractors.

Note: If you’ve seen what appears to be a perfectly fine sidewalk ramp be ripped up and replaced with what appears to be the exact same thing, it’s due to a violation of a very technical issue, such as maximum height of the lip where the asphalt meets the cement.

The second portion is very broad: it’s about equal access. This part requires more discretion, but basically, the idea is that if an able-bodied person can access a good or service, a disabled person must be accommodated in a way that provides as much equality as possible. You can’t require that people using wheelchairs use an entrance around the back, unless you’re a historic property, for example. 

This is where CVS failed.

Like most CVS stores, this one is located in a busy intersection, with parking all around it, and a drive-thru in the back (so much for the transit-village).

Pedestrians can be expected to arrive from three points: Walking south on Fowler, walking east on Kings Canyon, or arriving at the intersection from any other location. The front door faces the intersection.

Anyone arriving at the intersection obviously follows the most direct path to the door.

The front door points right at the corner, and even offers (poorly designed) bike racks!

 

 

There was a problem though. Those access points nearest to the intersection were not usable by people in wheelchairs. No ramps at all.

Those in wheelchairs were asked to take a lengthy detour. Lengthy detour = ADA alarm bells start ringing.

As you can see the red path is what an able-bodied person would do. The blue path is the lengthy route anyone in a wheelchair had to take. Clearly not equal access.

Now besides that fact that this store was built a full 20 years after ADA took effect, CVS, by nature of being a pharmacy, probably caters to the elderly and disabled more-so than other businesses. Add in the fact that this is a TOD area…and this is just unacceptable.

So I sent off an email in January. I got a call-back very quickly, allowing me to further explain the problem to a real person, who was very understanding.

I was then promised more action quickly:

It was a pleasure speaking with you today. As we discussed I am going to share your concerns with our field managers for review. You can expect a phone call from a member of our field management team within 5 business days to discuss this further. Click to read more!

An exercise in blaming the victim

I perked up last month when I saw that the Fresno Bee had devoted an entire article to the epidemic of vehicle violence. I had recently noted that the Bee is littered with stories about deaths, injuries and tragedy on our streets ever day, and was excited about something that may contain an actual investigation, and not just a retyping of the police logs.

The article that actually took a look into the epidemic is called  Pedestrian deaths a tragic trend in Fresno.

Unlike last months excellent LA Weekly piece on the extraordinary amount of hit and runs in Los Angeles, and the completely ineffective work by police departments to stop this, the Fresno Bee story took a different angle: how to blame the pedestrian.

Many of the pedestrian victims wore dark clothing and walked on the
roadway at night, said Sgt. Richard Tucker, of the traffic bureau. Tiani
Philpot was wearing dark clothing and walking south in the southbound
slow lane of four-lane Marks Avenue, near Emerson Avenue, when she was
hit about 11:30 p.m.

“The roads are not designed for pedestrians,” Tucker said. “They are designed for vehicles.”

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/12/07/3093717/pedestrian-deaths-surge-in-fresno.html#storylink=cpy
Yes, how dare the victim wear dark clothing. Clearly, when she planned out her outfit early that morning, she should have considered that she’d be walking in an area with no sidewalk, and no street lights.

She was hit and killed in a school zone. But instead of street lights and sidewalks, it was deemed more important to have five lanes available for cars. The officer is right, this road wasn’t designed for pedestrians. Instead of directing blame at the city engineering department, for designing this, and instead of directing blame at the motorists, who was driving too fast for conditions, isn’t it just easier to blame the deceased?

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You’ll note a very well worn desire path on the right. Clearly, many people walk here. At night however, without streetlights, it may have been impossible for her to see that dirt path, or perhaps it was muddy or flooded.

Incidentally, that area just got a new traffic light in the past year. A crosswalk was added. But take a look at how much care was placed on this brand new construction (which you can see from the sign was funded by the stimulus). A remarkably narrow sidewalk, with a pole placed in the middle. An ADA violation like this, in something built in 2012 is unacceptable, but don’t expect an inquiry as to how this was approved.

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From the above quote, you might remember officer Tucker from a previous incident. He was quoted in a very similar story about a student hit by a vehicle in another part of town, again without sidewalks or street lights.

While Fresno Police work to determine who was at fault and whether the
lack of lighting contributed to the crash, Sgt. Richard Tucker wants to
remind pedestrians to take precautions to keep themselves safe.

“Walking in the roadway is not a place to walk, we’re asking pedestrians
to cross at the intersection, to push the button and wait for it to say
walk. And of course the cross walk isn’t always a safe zone. We’re
asking you always look both ways before you cross the road,” said Sgt.
Tucker. Click to read more!

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. Click to read more!

Teenage student hit by car, guess who gets the blame

Last Thursday, a teenage girl was hit by a car at 6:30am while walking to her local bus stop.

Police are still trying to piece together what happened. They said incident happened just before sunrise and witnesses say the road was dark which may have contributed to the crash.

The Central High East student attempted to cross Brawley Avenue to get to a bus stop near her house. Neighbor Jeffrey Holland said he was riding his bike home from a nearby shopping center when the girl was struck near the center-divide.

“I was coming around the corner from the recycling base, heard a boom — and the paramedics were there quick,” said Jeffrey Holland, “The windshield was blown in the car, roof was smashed back, the doors were popped open, it looked really bad.” Click to read more!