By The Bakersfield Californian
The city that epitomizes American car culture today embraces the bicycle: Leaders in Los Angeles are drawing up plans to connect the metropolis's many communities through nearly 1,700 miles of bike lanes and trails. If auto-crazy L.A. can do this, Bakersfield certainly can, too.
Yes, we know there's a plan in place for local streets, but we see little evidence of the city's enthusiasm for it. Where are the street signs, the wider bike lanes, the engineered connectivity? Grants are available to make it happen.
Bakersfield's 30-mile bike path stretches vehicle-free from the mouth of the Kern River Canyon west to Enos Lane, but the lateral links are restrictive. Cyclists who brave the city's main surface streets face a gantlet of heavy, high-speed traffic, dim lighting and other hazards.
We have a community of riders who have worked hard to transform our roads into bike-friendly thoroughfares. The state's "Complete Streets" policy will gradually diversify transportation, but in the interim we're stuck with awkward partial solutions like the "bike lane to nowhere" at 24th Street and Highway 99.
We need smart, long-term connectivity and built-in safety that will encourage cycling, build a healthier citizenry and clean our air. If L.A. can attempt it, so can Bakersfield.