Bakersfield Council Approves $8 Million In Roadway Projects To ‘Stop The Killing On Our Streets’

September 13, 2023 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff | News & Media

Bakersfield Council Approves $8 Million In Roadway Projects To ‘Stop The Killing On Our Streets’

The Bakersfield City Council has approved “traffic calming” projects totaling nearly $8 million designed to make streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.

Bakersfield Councilman Bob Smith, during a council meeting, shared that the city averages 60 vehicle-related deaths and 2,000 automobile-related injuries per year, and “we’re on track to exceed that this year.”

“We have many more deaths from automobile accidents and collisions than what we do from homicides and guns,” Smith said according to The Bakersfield Californian. “We need to stop the killing on our streets and slowing traffic will help do that.”

The council approved four projects expected to be completed by the end of the year.:

  • Ohio Drive south of Highway 58.
  • Beale Avenue between Niles and Monterey streets. The road will be narrowed on both sides to make room for a buffered bike lane and extended sidewalks. Other improvements will include rubber curbs, striping, and countdown timers.
  • Manor Street and Union Avenue from Columbus Street to the Kern River Bridge.
  • Hageman Lift Station, located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Hageman Road and Rushmore Drive.
  • Sewer Lift Station at Parsons Way and Panama Lane and at Benton Street at Planz Road.

The projects will cost an estimated $2.5 million, $2.1 million and $3.2 million, pulled from a mixture of sources including Community Development Block Grants and traffic calming funds.

Traffic calming reduces the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alters driver behavior, and improves conditions for non-motorized street users. On other words, it consists of physical designs put in place on existing roads to reduce vehicle speeds and improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Examples include diagonal parking; changing one-way streets to two-way; widening sidewalks; narrowing streets and traffic lanes; bulbs, chokers, and neckdowns; chicanes; roundabouts; traffic circles; raised medians; right corner curbs; diverters; road humps, speed tables, and cushions; and rumble strips and other surface treatments.

It will improve mobility for those who depend on bicycles as a way for transportation for those who are walking within the neighborhood,” Councilman Andrae Gonzales said, according to The Californian. “This is an area of east Bakersfield that I actually represent and I can tell you there is a high concentration of individuals who walk and bicycle to work and school and the market who require public transportation to get to and from many places.”

According to KGET-17 News, which has been tracking pedestrian fatalities, Kern County has seen more than 300 pedestrian fatalities since 2016. This year Kern County has at least 35 pedestrian fatalities.

As reported by Chain | Cohn | Clark, the number of people killed on U.S. roads in 2021 — 42,915 — was also 10% higher than the year before, and the largest annual percentage increase since 1975 when such tracking began. At the same time, a nationwide study lists Bakersfield as the No. 2 most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States to be a pedestrian. And even more, Bakersfield lays claim to being No. 1 on the list worst driving cities, according to a report on the 70 best and worst driving cities in the nation.


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