Tag: fail

It’s taken Fresno over 3 years to rebuild a bus stop

On January 9, 2017. the Manchester Transit Center closed for renovations. It has been over three years and it is still closed for remodeling.


The Manchester Transit Center is one of three spots in Fresno where multiple bus lines meet, allowing seamless transfers. Or at least that was the case, as those buses were rerouted for the “temporary” construction project.

It’s not a particularly challenging project. It’s a surface level bus stop with 6 spaces for buses to stop. There are benches. There is a light canopy. There’s a trashcan or two. The FAX office is there, which sells passes, but that was never touched, and looks hilariously outdated. Click to read more!

Pictures of newly extended Enterprise Trail in Clovis

I’m still making my way through a backlog of pictures. These were taken last month.

I’m looking at a new section of the Enterprise Trail in Clovis. I previously looked at it before here.

Construction happened very quickly, but it’s a very odd trail. Goes absolutely nowhere. In this map I showed before, the green was the existing, and the orange is new.

There was one modification, a section of trail was built from the end of
the orange line to the west, where the road dead ends. Thats a shopping
center with a Mcdonalds, Starbucks, etc. I believe that section is temporary.

We start at that little shopping thing, looking west. It’s just a sidewalk.

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A 180 turn and it looks like a trail, this was built when the shopping was.

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Looking back again, an extremely unfriendly crossing

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Looking from above, you’ll note the dismal connectivity to the shops.

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This thing was built, and it looks very useless

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Onto the trail then.

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Freeway 168 off to the side. Why on earth wasn’t the planned trail crossing built from day 1?

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 Here is where what I think is the temporary connection meets what I think is permanent. Why? Because this section we just saw will run next to the road, so it will probably be made with concrete once the road goes in. The section off to the left will probably stay asphalt. I think it’s permanent because they installed lights – which surprised me.

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 Only the lights and trees hint at any difference

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Looking back at the shopping

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 Looking back at the highway, one day this will continue straight over or under the highway, to the hospital

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Moving on then

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 Lets skip way forward and get to the other end, where the road just swings back to Temperance. Maybe by the time this trail is useful the trees will have grown in.

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It goes by the canal

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And very close to this building

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And here it meets the street. Surprise surprise, no access to the bike lane

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Just a sidewalk

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From the sidewalk

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Looking across the street. No crosswalk to continue on the canal path.

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But naturally the road is getting widened

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Just to clarify…

here you see the new trail end. How do you get across?

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If you try to go north on the sidewalk you find this

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New sidewalk under construction. Very odd, it gets wide like the trails, but not where the new trail is

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Widening, widening everywhere

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BONUS: This corner had already existed….with two ramps.

Now they’re just building one. WTF?

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So much fail.

Next update will be the new trailhead for the Enterprise Trail and the Dry Creek Trail.

A quick look at Campus Pointe Development – Pedestrian oriented? Not really

If you’ve been past Fresno State on Shaw any time this year, you’ve seen construction underway at Campus Pointe. It’s yet another shopping center for Fresno, in a part of town that isn’t exactly lacking in retail options. The project is a joint development between Fresno State, and the people who brought us River Park.

The “selling point” is that it is directly next to Fresno State, so it’s being advertised as a place for students to visit, and somewhere they can do so walking or biking. Sadly, the fundamentals are missing which make it a real walking or biking destination, and parking is a huge center-piece, as expected. As is the case in every Fresno development, the main street (Chestnut in this case) is fronted by parking.

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Source: Fresno Bee

The project has been in the planning stages for almost a decade at this point, and because it includes a movie theater, they were sued by Sierra Vista which opened their theater around 2007 or so. Sierra Vista is just 2 miles away, while the $3 theater (United Artists 8) is just over a mile away. Aside from the lawsuit delaying things, the recessions obviously put a stop to things for a good 5 years.

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Car-wise, the location is a disaster. 168 boxes the site in on the right and bottom, severely limiting driving access. That means most visitors will come in through Shaw and Chesnut. Anyone who drives into Clovis knows that this intersection is a disaster, due to the highway off ramps and series of traffic lights which always catch you.

You cant drive (or walk, or bike) east because of the freeway.

You can’t drive west, because of campus, although you can bike and walk.

You can’t go south because of dead ends, so you’re forced onto Shaw.

North is open.

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The map above shows the three intersections the new traffic must go through. The middle and top one are roundabouts.

The problem? This pedestrian/bicycle oriented (supposedly) developments ALSO forces walkers and bikes onto these roundabouts, where all the cars will be. There’s no low-stress alternate route.

Doesn’t that sound fun? These won’t be low-traffic neighborhood circles, you’re talking about a high traffic shopping center with a regional draw (movie theater).

Imagine you’re on a bike, and your destination is the yellow star.

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You can’t go east, because freeway, so you MUST go through roundabout. 

If you go south, you can’t keep going to Gettysburg because the roads are blocked. Are you going through Shaw, with 6 lanes, no bike lanes, and high speed freeway on-ramps? Nope.

Shaw and Chestnut, with student housing on the bottom. Do you want to walk or bike here?
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If you go north onto Barstow, you’re also opting out of Willow, because again it’s 6 lanes of 50mph traffic. Peach is blocked by Wal-mart. That gives you Villa, with no bike lanes a 2×2 traffic.

So your best option is through the roundabout, across campus, all the way to Maple (Woodrow is blocked off halfway) and down to Gettysburg. That’s a hell of a detour!

Oh, did I mentioned that the route through campus is through the most scenic of parking lots?

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The most western parking lot is brand new, by the way. 

May I jog your memory with this picture.

Ahem. Back to Campus Pointe…

The roundabout itself is also a problem. For one, it requires pedestrians to take a detour just to cross the street. It also requires pedestrians to assert their right of way across two lanes of traffic at a time – not so easy when traffic is moving at 45mph, and it’s dark with low quality streetlights.

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The bike infrastructure is even worse – the roundabout doesn’t even meet state standards, and it’s brand new!

State design guidelines call for bike lanes to end, and cyclists to be given an option. They can take the lane, or, if they’re not comfortable, they should be provided a ramp where they can join the sidewalk through the roundabout.

Except that’s not what was built. In the picture below, the green square was designed properly, but the other side was not!

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It shouldn’t be this hard.

Anyway, lets take a look at what this thing was like a month ago (sorry, I’m really behind!)

The center street is supposed to be a main street, with retail on each side, and parking. Oddly, they went with 90 degree pull in parking. Obviously, that means people are really slow to park in and out. Odd choice for their major entranceway.

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Bike racks have been installed, but some of them are far away from the future stores

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I’m a fan of the lights

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The sidewalk is plenty wide

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I like that the parking spaces were broken up

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Looking back towards the apartments

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A very slightly raised intersection in the middle, with more “I Bike Fresno” racks

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I find it odd that the trees came in so early

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Walkway between buildings to the parking lots. Fire in the distance.

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At the roundabout, the z pattern is killer for bikes. Oddly, this end was fenced off, so I couldn’t walk around the roundabout.

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Looking back from the roundabout

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Roundabout, very badly lit at night

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And back at the other end, the apartments

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Overall the project itself appears to take out some design pointers from the bicycle and pedestrian book, but it all rings hollow because it’s so hard to get there as a bicycle and pedestrian.

It’s like the designers (and that means Fresno State) forget that to get from A (the dorm) to B (the theater), there’s a line in the middle.They simply left a hole.

I’m sure incoming freshman will make the walk the first time….and then realize they’ve made a huge mistake. The center was designed for driving, and that’s what people will do.

Enjoy the traffic Shaw.

Two years later: Clovis crosswalk STILL not done

How can you tell that a city prioritizes vehicles over pedestrians? Clovis might be revealing their hand with this absurd level of incompetence.

In the past two years, they’ve added well over ten miles of lanes in widened roads, installed and began operating multiple new stop lights, and resurfaced various streets.

And yet they can’t quite finish a single crosswalk that connects an elementary school, a church, and two residential neighborhoods. I guess the safety of children in no one near as important as adding new lanes in rarely used places.

You might remember back in April of 2012, when I looked at the slow construction. A year ago, in June of 2013, I went back and saw that the safety component of the project – the lights embedded in the pavement – had still not been activated.

Here we are in June of 2014 and it’s still not done.

To add insult to injury, while the other four crosswalks with lighting in Clovis are automated, this one requires pushing a button, which has never been uncovered.

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They did find the time to install a blatantly false sign, which forgets the state law on crosswalks (yes, cross traffic is required to stop when you use the crosswalk)

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There’s no light above the crosswalk, contrary to state standards, so it can be hard to see at night without the embedded pavement lights working. The elementary school is on the left, the church is on the right. A trail runs next to the church connecting to a residential area.

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What a sad state of affairs.

For the longest time – traffic signal fail

I’ve been planning on writing a post about how building bigger streets can actually slow down traffic. A central point of that post will be how bigger roads require lengthier traffic signal cycles.

I got lucky, or shall I say, unlucky, the other day as I found myself driving home and yet again getting stuck at Herndon and Fowler. Mind you, it’s not really luck. As I’ll talk about later, the wider the road, the more likely you’ll get red….

There is a signal here that is not working properly, and while I reported it to the city back in January (the 7th), no change was made.

Basically, the signal operates on rush hour timing at all times during the day, instead of reverting to sensor/demand mode at night.

I decided to finally document the frustration that comes with this signal. I had my camera with me, and I came to a full stop, pulled it out and began filming. So note that I, on Herndon (the 6 lane, 50mph major road), had red for at least ten seconds prior to the start of this video.

Take special note of the amount of cars that cross this intersection during my seemingly endless wait.

(Warning: Radio music is slightly loud at first. Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time” would be better I’d think)

That’s a hell of a wait. Watch the whole thing, and I promise you;ll smile at one point.

At 1am, or whenever this video was taken, the wait is absurd, and a waste of time and gas.

But now imagine this same wait during the day, with 20, 30 or more cars on Herndon just sitting there, enjoying the cycle.

Doesn’t seem like the best way to manage traffic, does it?

I’ll have the full post next week.

Misuse of air quality funds

As you’ve heard me mention on this blog many times, the San Joaquin Valley, home to Fresno, has the worst air quality in the nation. So it makes sense that funding would arrive from multiple sources to attempt to clean things up. Because transportation emissions are such a large portion of the air quality problem, it makes sense to target transportation infrastructure. (The other large source of pollution is agriculture, and that’s a touchy subject). =&0=&

Rail-trail land grab

In his Sunday column in the Fresno Bee, Bill McEwen informs us of a plan by a restaurant owner to grab some of the right-of-way used by the Fresno-Clovis rail trail and convert it to private restaurant space.

While the land-grab wouldn’t decrease the size of the currently paved path, it would take a large portion of the publicly held land, and so block any future improvements, including something in the far-future, like a rail-transit line. It would also remove mature vegetation which makes the path comfortable to use.

Most importantly, it would take public land, held by the city and useable by all, and privatize it. Walls would be built and only paying customers would have access during business hours. If the business were to fail, then nobody would have access to the walled off section.

McEwen is also concerned by the complete lack of public outreach on a project that has regional implications, because once one developer is allowed to privatize the right-of-way, then every other developer will be lining up to do the same.

The project also requires no environmental review because the proposal is an expansion of 2,408sqft, which just so happens to be conveniently less than 2,500 feet, which would trigger an environmental review.

Here is what McEwen had to say:

David Fansler, owner of the Yosemite Ranch restaurant in the Via MontaƱa shopping center at Champlain Drive and Shepherd Avenue, wants to build a walled patio that would take up half of the trail’s 60-foot right-of-way.

I’m confident the patio would be nicely done. I’m fairly sure the patio wouldn’t risk the safety of trail users. You can bet that the restaurant owner will pack the house with supporters when the Fresno City Planning Commission hears the proposal Wednesday night.

But the manner in which the project quietly has been pushed through City Hall is alarming. And if the patio is approved, what’s to stop other businesses from jutting into the trail, too? The Fresno segment could be spoiled over the decades — one piecemeal decision at a time.

The big question is, why has City Hall been so secretive about this? Changing a regional trail deserves a public hearing before it even goes to the Planning Commission. Another question: Shouldn’t the city have a policy on trail changes before barging ahead with Yosemite Ranch’s request?

Fresno City Manger Mark Scott, who doubles as head of the Planning Department in these tough economic times, disputes my contention that this potential public land grab has been hush-hush.

He says residents within 500 feet of the restaurant were notified and patio opponents have spread the word. In effect, Scott says, the Planning Commission meeting “will end up being that first public hearing.”
Click to read more!

Parking in the rear can be a failed policy

When talking about what is wrong with suburban planning, many (including myself) will tell you about how damaging the enormous (and enormously underused) parking lots that front strip malls can be. Many urbanists will tell you that a great way to fix ugly sprawl is to mandate that parking being forced to the rear of new and redeveloped retail. That way, customers get their ample free parking, but it’s not as detrimental to the landscape, because it’s hiding out back. But what if suburban cities decide to half-ass it, and send only some parking to the rear? Apparently, that’s what’s mandated in commercial development here, and it’s a failed policy.

The acres of parking in front of a store were probably developed in the late 1940’s when the new suburban retailers wished to differentiate themselves from the established city ones. Parking in front sent a message to households with brand new cars that their fancy purchases were more than welcome. An endless sea of parking up front says “Shop with us! We have plenty of room for you! Don’t go downtown where you’ll never find a spot!”

Today, over half a century later, advertising the free and ample parking is no longer necessary. Suburban dwellers expect parking at their destination, and quite frankly it’s never a question if it will exist. No one ever says “hey, before we head to Target, let me check their website to see if they have a parking lot”. We all know Target is going to have too much parking. Oddly enough, every new development seems to be designed with the idea that providing these lots will be a surprise, and they must be the first interaction the customer has with the store.

When I talked about one of the reasons Shaw avenue in Clovis has a 20%+ vacancy rate, I pointed out that parking in front is detrimental to business. Because the stores are located so far back, they lose visibility from their driving customers, quite the irony I think. That hasn’t stopped these retailers from building every new store and center with the same format.

One tweak to the format, which I believe is mandated, is that some parking always is provided in the rear. In cities like Fresno and Clovis, retailers are required to provide parking based on a certain magical equation that was designed a few decades ago. The equation takes into account projected customers and employees.

Something that you may not notice when you shop at a suburban store is that every modern box and center has many spaces directly behind the store. Presumably, these spaces are there for employees. Employees can enter through the back, and having employees park behind the store ensures more spaces are available by the entrance for customers.

The problem is, this is a failed policy. There may be a mandate to install parking in the rear, but there’s no mandate that anyone actually use it. So employees continue to park out front, taking all the prime spaces, and a whole lot of spaces remain empty and unused in the back. The way these employee lots are designed make it so that even if a customer wanted to park there, because every other space was taken, they really wouldn’t be able to.

At around $8,000 per surface space, all this parking is a real waste of money. It’s also a waste of land, and bad for the environment, as it stores heat in the summer and prevents rain-water from enter the soil.

There are two easy ways to see how these spaces go to waste. One, is to stop by a retail center shortly before or shortly after it opens or closes. You might be surprised to see that at 10:15pm, after a store like Target has closed and almost every customer has gone home, there are still 30 or so cars taking all the best spots in front. Or try passing by the mall 10 minutes before it opens in the morning. I guarantee there’s nobody anxiously waiting for the doors to open, and yet all the best parking spots are already taken.

Another way to see all this wasteful parking is with one of my favorite tools, google maps. Shall we take a tour of the enormous waste?

Here’s a Home Depot, with over 100 employee parking spots. I don’t think 100 people ever work at a Home Depot at the same time, and yet they’ve gone ahead and built all these employees lovely spots. Only two spots are taken by actual cars here. That’s about $800,000 in construction costs, by the way, just sitting there, never to be used.


This Toys R Us And Office Depot has a rear parking area for around 80 employees. About three are using it, I’d assume the senior managers.


This supermarket-anchored center has a smaller lot, so percentage wise, it’s actually quite populated. That’s not saying much. This shall be the most successful rear-parking in this post, so enjoy it!


Compare it to this other supermarket-center

The employee parking area even gets its own entrance from the street, but that doesn’t mean anyone will use it.


Indeed, it seems like the employee-rear-parking requirement keeps increasing. This Target/Best Buy shopping center opened in 2006. Again, private rear entrance, but no takers. Target has a long employee lot on the far left, and Best Buy has the back. Two smaller stores have access to an employee lot on the far right. Doesn’t matter, they’re all empty.


And here we have a very recent Winco. A MASSIVE employee parking lot, with multiple private entrances. And maybe 5 cars total?


This Costco example is particularly frustrating because unlike almost every other retail store whose parking never fills more than 50%, their main parking area does manage to “almost” fill up. And Costo DOES have 100 or so employees, each one of them taking up a nice parking spot up front, while their private lot sits almost completely empty. A private lot that even has three convenient access points.


This Costco example shows that “fail” can come from all directions. In one direction, we have a government fail, where the government is requiring employee parking lots that nobody wants.

But the wonderful private sector fails as well. Costco is massively popular, and their parking lots are highly competitive. But Costco fails because it doesn’t require their scores of employees to use the ample parking in the rear. Instead, the employees take all the best spots when they show up in the morning.

They’re hurting their customers by making their parking harder to access. It’s somewhat ironic that this store format is so auto-dominated, presumably to serve their customers, but they force the customers to use less convenient parking because management can’t be bothered to instruct employees to park in the rear.

Finally, here’s the the oddest example. This rear-parking area is massive, and never used. I just don’t know what they were thinking when it came to this one.


So big.

The moral of the story is, parking must stick together. Isolating parking, even for a specialized group like employees won’t work because it’s less convenient.

If parking is to go in the rear, it must be ALL the parking. The only exception would be handicap parking, because there’s a stick (fines) to make sure the best parking is used by those that have proven that they need it.

PS: Gas prices hit $4.00 average in California today, ahead of my prediction by two entire weeks.

A frontage road with a frontage road…?

I was using Google Maps the other day to find the location of an office, as I had a medical appointment to get to. The office was located off Herndon, a street Fresno has developed into a limited access highway. There are no driveways or mid-block turns on Herndon, the only way on and off are at intersections .5 miles apart. So to get to the medical office, I was looking to see the best intersection to turn off.

That’s when I noticed something quite odd, and very wasteful. A triple road.

Sections of Herndon were developed with a “frontage road” which is where all the driveway entrances are, and where street parking is allowed. This isn’t surprising, as Fresno has many frontage roads. I’ve always thought them to be a waste of space and money, but oh well. Mind you, as far as I can tell, frontage roads are a thing of the past and are no longer being developed.

A common frontage road off Herndon

What caught my eye is a locations where there is Herndon, a frontage road (no name)…and then another road! Three parallel roads! And three medians!

I know land is cheap here, but come on!


And then behind those 5 homes? An alley. That’s a whole lot of road space. Those homes must be really important if their driveways need a private frontage road, and an alley buffer in the back.

Here’s a useless comparison, but one way to think about how space can be allocated.

The distance between the edge of Herndon and that alley, where they’ve just managed to squeeze in a few homes, is 423 ft


Which is much more than what the empire state building and the two streets that serve it take up.