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Kern Taxpayers Association pushes to expand trails

It's not just about safety but it’s about health.
Walking (FILE)
Posted at 5:18 PM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 23:52:36-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — California is known for its car culture, but here locally, there are efforts to make it easier to ditch that gas guzzler and walk, use scooters, and bikes to get around town.

The Kern Taxpayers Association is pushing for a plan that would add more than 50 miles of pathways through and leading to metro Bakersfield’s abandoned or underused railways.

“It is the whole idea of getting pedestrians, joggers and runners off the streets and give them a safe place to walk to run,” said Michael Turnipseed, Executive Director of the Kern County Taxpayers Association.

Just last year, 23ABC reported that Bakersfield is the second most dangerous metropolitan area for pedestrians in the country.

Turnipseed adds it is not just about safety but it’s also about health.

As the repercussions of living in a car-oriented environment go beyond pollution, many find it more convenient to drive than engage in physical activity.

His team members also point to current events for why the city should go full speed with more trail plans.

“Coming out of the pandemic, also with high gas prices, we hear time and time again that people want more activities that they can do outside for recreation. They want more opportunities to be able to bike or walk to their destination and be able to do it safely,” said Adam Cohen, Transportation Expert for Kern Taxpayers Association.

The city has already adopted some parts of the Kern taxpayers plan, noting its fiscal benefits.

“This will increase the adjacent areas to see good economic development, create a nice corridor throughout the downtown area, around the mill creek corridor that can be a nice economic driver and walkable trail,” said Christian Clegg, Bakersfield City Manager.

Although both agree on the benefits of expanding trails, the Taxpayers Association would like to see about $40 million including grant funds, while the city wants to be a bit more modest.

Officials saying the complete plan would create a lot of traffic congestion due to needed construction, and the city simply does not have the staff to break ground on all those trails at once.