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Poor sidewalk conditions create obstacles for the disabled

KBAK/KBFX photo

Take a walk down the streets of Bakersfield, and you'll notice a problem. The city has crumbling sidewalks.

Many are cracked and uneven, making them difficult to maneuver, especially for disabled people.

Roger McCary uses a walker to get from one place to the next, and the sidewalks downtown don't make it easy.

"I swear, some of them are a good inch or inch and a half difference, and these wheels if your rollin' ... it just stops," said McCary. "Something that obstructs your movement as basic as what you are walking on, I believe is a real hazard."

The city said most sidewalks are owned by private-property owners, so maintenance is their responsibility. But there are some areas were the responsibility does belong to the city.

Bakersfield receives grants to help repair sidewalks. Officials just need to be notified.

"We'll do the best we can," said Street Superintendent Micheal Connor. "We'll go out and ramp them and make sure that everything is safe for them."

Tanner Thompson is part of a nonprofit called Wheels 4 Bakersfield. He said he wants people in wheelchairs to have the same access as everyone else.

"If the sidewalk is not wheelchair friendly, its like you guys are saying that people in wheelchairs are not important," said Thompson.

The city said it tries to create partnerships with property owners to help fix their sidewalks, but at a cost.

"We can actually pull the concrete out, get it grated, they would pay the cost for the contractor," said Connor. "It is a good deal. The only thing is they have to pay us in advance before we do it."

As for McCary, he is hoping to see more repairs so he won't be facing any more falls.

While permanent repairs are the responsibility of the property owner, all reported hazardous sidewalks are investigated by the city.

If the street is seen as a safety issue, it can be temporarily fixed. To report or request repair of sidewalks, call (661) 326-3111.

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