BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Just in time for spring and this interlude of beautiful weather there is now another reason to be outside which is courtesy of the Kern County Public Works Department and you, the taxpayer.

That is: a better Kern River Bike Trail.

Among America’s great transportation achievements: The transcontinental railroad, the U.S. interstate highway system and the Kern County lake-to-lake bike trail, which officially opened Friday. 

Well, as engineering marvels go, maybe those three accomplishments aren’t all on the same level, but don’t tell the Kern County Public Works Department, whose employees are as proud as they can be to have driven the golden spike — or in this case snipped the ceremonial ribbon – on the 37-mile, $946,000 bike path’s last leg: a mile and a half loop around Lake Ming, which is now more aesthetically connected to its sister lake southwest of the city.

“We go all the way from this lake, Lake Ming, all the way out to Buena Vista Lake and that’s the first of its kind in the state that I’m aware of,” Scott Radsick of the county’s public works department said. 

He said county engineers, prompted by public demand, tweaked the route to get closer to the lake.

“(We) got the public input and (the public) wanted to actually be really close to the lake, and loop around the lake, so that’s what we chose on this one,” he said. “So the design took about four or five months to design and then about three months in construction, from start to finish.”

They added a nice touch – benches around the lake for bike riders to rest and appreciate the view.  They may not look like a lot but the combination bench-bike racks were created just for this bike trail project.

The county couldn’t find any like them to purchase, so county employee Mike Rodriguez designed and fabricated them himself.

The benches are dedicated to three county employees who were involved in the bike trail project: public works employees Mark Evans and Patsy Ebel and county planner Patty Thomsen, each of whom passed away in recent years.

Joe Watkins, president of the Kern Wheelmen, says the local bicycle-riders club gives its stamp of approval to the bike trail extension.

“You can make a complete loop around the lake, which is bike friendly, more so than the road there,” he said. “And also for people who bring their kids, you want to let them – they’re not playing in the water – they can ride their bicycles safely around the lake here. It’s a wonderful addition.”

An equally important constituency approves as well, 8-year-old Cali Bell was on hand to remind us what this is all about.

“You get to be in nature … and when you’re done you get to feel like you’re a whole new person sometimes,” Cali, who came to the mid-morning ribbon cutting with her mother, a public works employee, said. “When you’re out in nature you get to feel all the breeze and feel the wind in your hair. It’s pretty awesome.”

Pretty awesome indeed.

What’s the best way to celebrate this new, completed bike trail?

Here’s a suggestion: Get on your bike, come on out to Lake Ming and take a mile-and-a-half lap.