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Posts by: "Wendy Alfsen"
Rexland Acres

Intersection in Rexland Acres

A coalition of advocates—including California Walks, Greenfield Walking Group, Leadership Counsel for Justice & Sustainability, Building Healthy Communities–South Kern, and local parents and youth—played an integral role in securing $5.6 million in Active Transportation Program (ATP) funding for the Rexland Acres Community Sidewalk Project [PDF]. In all, the ATP grant will provide nearly 88% of the funding needed to build sidewalks, create safe crossings with high-visibility crosswalks and solar-powered Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) as needed, install appropriate signage, and provide drainage where there currently is none in the outskirts of Bakersfield.

So just how did this collaboration lead to a state grant that ranked 13 out of 456 applications statewide?


California Walks & Greenfield Walking Group leading a Community Pedestrian Safety Training in Rexland Acres in 2012.

In 2012, residents—including members of the Greenfield Walking Group—identified sidewalks and safe crossings in Rexland Acres as their priority at a Community Pedestrian Safety Training workshop facilitated by California Walks and UC Berkeley SafeTREC. In the intervening years, these community members nurtured partnerships with Kern County staff and their elected leaders.

Jocelyn Cuevas, a Rexland Acres resident and a high school senior, saw new sidewalks elsewhere in the county and knew her community wanted—and deserved—the same, writing last year in South Kern SOL (Youth Commentary: Why My Community Deserves Sidewalks): “The communities of South Kern shouldn’t have to ask for sidewalks, as they are a basic feature of a healthy and sustainable community.” Youth leaders like Jocelyn, 17, and Jose Pinto, 21, helped spread the word about their concerns and also mobilized youth to gather signatures door-to-door. Now, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) is expected to adopt the ATP funding recommendations in December, including the grant for Rexland Acres.

Over the past few years, California Walks and our partners have succeeded in advocating for ATP eligibility that prioritizes funding for communities who need it most, so that communities with limited resources and high rates of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and deaths can fairly compete for the critically needed funding.

Kern County’s success with the Rexland Acres Community Sidewalk Project ATP application proves that when residents, community-based organizations, government agency staff, and elected leaders join together to collaborate on their active transportation needs and propose effective solutions, they are better able to tell their community’s story to potential funders.

Action alert: Want to weigh in on Kern County’s active transportation needs? Participate in one (or more) of the upcoming Walk Audits or Workshop events between November 30 and December 15 across the county. You can also share your knowledge and preferences for biking and walking on the Kern County WikiMap on the Kern Region Active Transportation Plan website.


Jocelyn-SKS-Photo-300x294 After fellow South Kern residents in Lamont secured nearly $2 million last fall from the state’s Active Transportation Program (ATP) to improve sidewalks and provide safe crossings connecting homes, schools, and bus stops, advocates in Greenfield and south Bakersfield are aiming to replicate Lamont’s success by collaborating with the Kern County Department of Public Works for the upcoming ATP Cycle 3 to bring new resources and active transportation infrastructure to their unincorporated rural farmworker community rapidly being surrounded by metro Bakersfield.

Helming the efforts is Jocelyn Cuevas, a 17-year-old high school student at Golden Hills High School. Writing in South Kern SOL (Youth Commentary: Why My Community Deserves Sidewalks), Jocelyn explains that she “worr[ies] about mothers pushing strollers, students heading to school, and children walking to the park…Because these community members often must walk in the street next to traffic. The communities of South Kern shouldn’t have to ask for sidewalks, as they are a basic feature of a healthy and sustainable community.”

RexlandAcresSidewalks-2015-11-24-at-1.32.20-PMAgitating to take action for her community, Jocelyn has recruited advocates from Greenfield Walking Group and Healthy South Kern to help her launch a campaign to bring sidewalks, safe crossings and more to her Greenfield and Rexland Acres community, as well as to ensure that the Kern Council of Government’s forthcoming Kern Active Transportation Plan reflects her community’s needs and priorities.

To hear more from Jocelyn Cuevas on her South Kern campaign and other youth leaders from around the state on why their voices are critical for walkability, pedestrian safety, and active transportation, join us at the 2016 PedsCount! SummitUnlocking Community Vibrancy, Health and Prosperity for All Walks of Life–in Long Beach on June 6 & 7, 2016. Save your seat! Register now.

All photos in this post are reprinted with permission from South Kern Sol, www.southkernsol.org