Tag: roundabout

Clovis is getting a new roundabout

At the request of Caltrans, Clovis will be converting a signalized intersection at Temperance and Alluvial into a roundabout this year.

State Department of Transportations love roundabouts. Unlike traffic signals, roundabouts allow for a continuous flow of traffic, which the highway folks love, especially near major freeways. That’s because traffic signals can cause traffic on highways to back up past the exit lane into the general highway. A couple of years ago, most of the exits along CA-41 in Fresno were widened because this was happening.

Here’s a road north of Albany, NY, where the highway folks went roundabout crazy. Click to read more!

Fresno State Finally Gets Serious About Non-Car Transportation!

Fresno State, officially California State University, Fresno, has for decades been a driving university. The campus arrived at its current location in 1956, and at the time it was located far from the city. That was intentional – with agriculture as a core mission, the University purposely surrounded itself with farms. Even today, the 388-acre main campus is attached to the 1,011-acre University Farm. As such, one was expected to drive to campus. Especially because students came from all over the Central Valley.=&0=&

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.

Downtown speed limit to rise

A minor item in this weeks city council meeting involved raising the speed limit of P street downtown from 25 to 30mph. While a small change, it’s probably one in the wrong direction. P street is close to City Hall, the train station, and a fair amount of pedestrian-oriented businesses. Raising the speed limit might help a driver save 3 seconds, but will negatively impact the safety and comfort of the street.

The two sections being raised are on P between Divisadero and Fresno, and between Tulare and Ventura. In green is the section remaining at 25mph

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Across town, there is a change for the better – the speed limit is being lowered. The section is going from 40mph to 35mph and is on Fowler between Kings Canyon and Belmont. That just happens to be the location of the newest roundabout which I provided a photo tour of.

You can see google maps has added the roundabout.

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In the second example, the speed limit is lowered because a major piece of traffic calming, a roundabout, was added. Perhaps the city can take the money they want to spend removing the Fulton Mall and instead fix the other streets downtown to make them safer for all visitors.

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!

In internet age, ideas still travel slowly

We’re all very familiar with the idea that if a volcano blows in Indonesia, a plane crashes in Paraguay or a riot breaks out in Helsinki, news of the event will reach every corner of the globe in a couple of hours. The world is of course connected and news can travel quickly.

Theoretically, ideas can travel as quickly as news, and yet it seems that it isn’t the case. Indeed, new ideas, which may be fantastic, well-proven concepts, can take years to be spread and accepted.

When it comes to adopting proven best-practices, that’s a huge roadblock.

Two things inspired me to write this post. One, is the announcement that the New York City bike-share system will launch this summer and be sponsored by Citibank. What caught my eye was the parade of articles about the concept that followed the press releases. The second thing that inspired me to write this post are the songs I heard on the radio today. Those two concepts might seem unrelated, but they both show how ideas still spread slowly.

With bike share, New York has been following the exact same media pattern we saw in Boston in 2009-2011. Boston, naturally, was mirrored in London during the same period. Both of course were simple repeats of what happened in Washington a year earlier. The same can be said in many, many other cities.

If you followed the introduction of bike-share in any of these cities, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’ve been following it in Portland, Chicago or San Francisco, then you may have noticed the first phases. If you want a sneak peak, just read through anything that came from NYC press this past week.

Basically, bike-share is not a new concept. 3rd generation bike share has been out in force since the summer of 2007, when Paris unleashed the world’s biggest system. That system has been mimicked successfully in city after city around the globe. But it doesn’t matter how successful it has been in Paris or dozens of other cities, when the concept is “introduced” to a different city, it’s always the same.

The comments tend to reflect the following:

It’ll never work! No one will ride them! Only tourists will use them! It will be a boondoggle! There will be so many accidents, injuries or deaths!! If people wanted to bike, they’d have their own! There will be rampant vandalism! It’ll cost too much!

And so on and so forth. You should know exactly what I’m talking about because every single city boils down to the same sets of (bad) arguments. And in every case, the media and the people ignore the fact that the EXACT same lines were repeated in 2011, 2010, 2009…etc in countless cities across the world…..and in every single case, the comments were off.

If you DO point it out though, there is a common answer.

“So what. We’re (New York City/Boston/Chicago/DC/Mexico City/Rome/Denver/San Francisco). We’re nothing like (Paris/Boston/London/DC/Mexico City/Rome/Denver/San Francisco). What works there won’t work here”

But it does, every damn time.

The hoards of unbalanced tourists that will cause havoc in the street in New York, and ride straight to their death? The size of injuries will probably be very similar to that of Boston, DC, London and so on. As far as I know, the number of deaths or serious injuries can be summed up with the number zero. Traffic chaos? Sure, will be around the same as every other day. Lack of use? Absolutely, just like no one rides the train.

I get it; every city is super-unique….except when they’re not. They’re still people making the same choices, working similar jobs, trying to get to similar places.

It doesn’t matter how connected the world is, it doesn’t matter how EASY it is to look up if the scheme has been successful in other cities before, it’s always the same. Those making the comments act as if we’re still in 1820 where a program 100 miles away effectively doesn’t exist because word doesn’t travel.

Why don’t the people writing articles about potential vandalism, injury, lack of use etc think for a second “hm, I wonder if I’m the only person in the world who has ever been brilliant enough to come up with these potential obstacles? There is a chance I might not be. I should look to see what was said and done elsewhere”.

I really do wonder why so many in the media, which pride themselves on research and investigations fail to do the most simple of searches.

What bothers me most about this is that when ideas spread so slowly, it makes it very difficult for other cities to adopt best practices.

We see this over and over again.

Look at “sharrows” painted on roads. They were common in Portland for many years, and they began being used around the country. But even after many major cities had successfully installed them, there were huge barriers to others following suit.

For example, both LA and San Francisco organized expensive and time-consuming “studies” about sharrows. There was no need; Portland could have been taken as a multi-year field study. But no. It had to be done again.

I guarantee if someone were to propose sharrows in Fresno, for example on the Gettysburg bike lane project which lacks bike lanes, the city would say “we don’t know if that would work, we need to study it”.

I know that’s exactly what would happen, because when I asked the city to consider back-in angled parking on Broadway, I was told it wouldn’t be done because it was unproven, even though countless cities have proven it’s safer and more efficient. It doesn’t matter. Like all those other cities, Fresno is unique, and what works there won’t work here….

The list can go on. If you live in ANY American suburb, and the city proposed or recently built your very first roundabout….I can recite the article the local paper or TV station produced without having ever read it. I guarantee they interviewed a concerned neighbor that was sure there would be many accidents. I would bet that a local politician was outraged at the congestion that would obviously occur. Of course, like in every other suburb where those points were raised, that never happened.

Change can be scary. However, part of that fear can be relieved by simply looking to see if a concept has been tried elsewhere and if it has worked. It’s also important to see if the same concerns were raised and if they were also unfounded.

But how can those ideas be spread if innovation still travels so slowly?

I will have a follow up post looking at social networks and music, and the fact that even when people pro-actively share things, it can take a very long time for stuff to spread.