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Bakersfield Set To Launch Massive Safety Program

Officials in the city of Bakersfield have just passed a resolution targeting pedestrian and biker safety. This new resolution, which passed City Council on February 7th, will help increase communications between Bakersfield’s local government and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

In total, this safety plan will cost Bakersfield $377,000. Caltrans will pay $177,000 of this fund and the city government will pay the remaining $200,000.

Safety officials will first take a closer look at areas of the city that have a high incidence of traffic-related accidents. Once safety officials have identified the most dangerous streets in the city, they will put together an action plan to help reduce accidents.

In addition to adding more warning signs, city officials will try to work on creating more bike lanes or totally rebuilding certain areas. The areas inspectors are most interested in improving are the city’s intersections.

The city government was inspired to take action on this issue after a recent traffic report showed that pedestrian fatalities have risen steadily since 2014. The number of traffic-related deaths went up from 10 in 2014 to 21 in 2017.

After this report was released in August of 2017, the Bakersfield City Council drew up a formal request for funds from Caltrans. This request was sent out in October of last year.

While pedestrian deaths have grown in recent years, cyclist fatalities have averaged at between two and three.

One of the most dangerous areas of Bakersfield is near Highway 204 at the intersection of Union Avenue. Over ten pedestrian fatalities happened in this area of the city just last year.

Although many biker safety advocates are happy with these changes, they are encouraging the city not to focus exclusively on areas where there are pedestrian fatalities. These safety leaders want the city to look into areas where bikers are frequently injured.

The group Bike Bakersfield specifically asked the City Council to look into the area by Kern River Parkway and to create larger bike lanes all around the city. Overall, leaders at the group Bike Bakersfield applauded the City Council’s latest moves to increase pedestrian safety in the city.

Now that Bakersfield’s City Council has an agreement over funding, it will begin looking for an official consultant for this project. City leaders hope to have a consultant ready for the job by May, which is also the time the Caltrans funds should start flowing in.

There’s no set timeframe for how long this project will take. Most lawmakers, however, don’t expect it to go on for any longer than 18 months.