City Beat Blog

Wednesday, Nov 28 2012 06:38 PM

City looking for ideas to improve bike paths

By The Bakersfield Californian

City planners are looking for public input on how to improve bike routes in the city.

They want to hear about what changes should be made to get people riding more often. And they want to know what discourages people from riding, especially for short trips.

To that end, city staff and a consulting firm are asking riders and non-riders alike to voice their opinions through an online survey and a public workshop.

The city, using a grant it got from the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment and the Sierra Club, has hired consulting firm Alta Planning + Design to come up with a bicycle transportation plan for Bakersfield. It would outline needed improvements, such as establishing bike lanes in certain areas so people can ride to work, restriping bike lanes or creating safer routes away from busy traffic. Once a plan is drawn up, the city can use it to apply for funding from the California Department of Transportation to make those improvements.

The survey takes about five to 10 minutes. You can find it here: http://tinyurl.com/csjpbm8. It asks how often Bakersfield residents bike, how far they go, where they'd ride if they felt comfortable, what the problem areas are and what would encourage them to ride more often.

The deadline for the survey is Dec. 19.

The survey isn't just for cyclists, said Kate Shea, associate planner for the city. The city also wants to know why people don't ride.

"If you're not riding a bicycle but you're interested, we want to know why you're not able to," Shea said.

In the meantime, city planners and the consulting firm will hold a public workshop on Dec. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Rabobank Convention Center in the "Potato" conference room. There, people will be able to see maps of existing bike routes and talk about what needs to be changed.

"The whole intent of the Dec. 12 (meeting) is to receive the community input and hear their concerns about what's needed specifically and where the problems are," Shea said.

Alta Planning + Design will take the comments from the survey and the meeting to create a Bakersfield-specific plan.

"It's a community-driven effort," Shea said.

Most important is that Bakersfield residents voice their opinions, through the survey or at the public workshop. Grants from the Caltrans fund will require some matching funds from the city, so residents who participate in the survey or the meeting will show city leaders they want to bike, Shea said.

Community feedback will "emphasize to the city that this is important ... that (the community) wants better facilities," she said.

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