County celebrates new bike lanes
December 9, 2023
On the extraordinarily blustery morning of Nov. 27, as biting winds tore through Tehachapi, Kern County Public Works hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the side of Woodford-Tehachapi Road, courtesy of property owner Ryan Hanzel of Hanzel Enterprises Inc., to celebrate the end of a large repavement project on roads between Highline Road and Valley Boulevard. Attendees of the ceremony included Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner, Kern County Public Works Director Josh Champlin, Mojave Highway Patrol Lieutenant Commander Maria Pagano and the Tehachapi High School Mountain Bike Team.
Starting in August of this year, Backes Lane, Schout Road and Woodford-Tehachapi Road, which together connect Highline Road to West Valley Boulevard, underwent a two-and-a-half month shoulder and bike lane repavement project by the county. The new bike lane, finished Nov. 8, greatly improves cyclist and pedestrian safety and will be regularly utilized by Heritage Oaks students and the Tehachapi High School Mountain Bike Team, who were originally slated to give an inaugural 1.5 mile bike ride down the new lane at the ceremony, but were unable to without risk of being blown away.
Lt. Pagano gave a speech about cycling safety. Through bouts of gusty winds, she reminded the crowd that bikes are considered vehicles and must adhere to all traffic laws, including stopping at signals and stop signs. She also gave tips on riding safely, like using hand signals when turning and always wearing helmets and reflective clothing when on your bike.
As a fine layer of dust began to build on ceremony attendees, Kern County Public Works Director Josh Champlin shared the positive environmental impacts of the paving project. The new pavement will keep a whopping one thousand pounds of dust from being kicked up into the air by Tehachapi's violent gales each year. In fact, the nearly two-million dollar project was mostly funded by a CMAQ (congestion, mitigation and air quality improvement) fund run by the California Air Resources Board.
Although the mountain bike team was unable to perform the inaugural ride down the 1.5-mile strip of repaved roads, they did hold the ribbon up as Supervisor Scrivner performed the ribbon-cutting. To close the ceremony, the mountain bike team coaches braved the wind to perform a small celebratory one-block ride down the new lane.