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?
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.