Fresno has finally begun to take advantage of its extensive canal system by starting to build a section of a multi-use trail, one of hundreds of planned miles. But what if the trail is being built to satisfy lines on a plan, and the design choices make it clear that accessibility or ease of use was never really considered? Below, I take a tour of a recently completed section of trail and document many of the design flaws, including terrible access for those in wheelchairs.
The Fresno area, thanks to the agricultural roots, is crossed by many canals which bring much needed water to farmers. As the city grew, and buildings replaced farms, the canals remained but the city turned their back on them. The canals weren’t seen as a place to enjoy, but as a place to be kept off limits. This is odd because the area is lacking in water features. There are no natural lakes in the region, only artificial ones, like the bird habitat at Woodward Park or the dam-reservoirs up in the mountains. The San Joaquin river marks Fresno’s northern boundary, but access to it is limited and difficult. Indeed, because of the way development was organized, it has become isolated, leading to drug use and prostitution along its banks. This only scares off people wanting to enjoy a water feature.