Bakersfield’s Journey Towards Greener Transportation: An Insight with City Councilman Bob Smith

In case you missed it, last week we streamed a GreenTech Talks interview with Councilman Bob Smith on our LinkedIn page. For a comprehensive understanding of his thoughts and our discussion, you can watch the full interview here:

Welcome to the Destination for Innovation Campaign, hosted by Les Mood. This enlightening series is made possible by a collaboration between the City of Bakersfield and the Green Tech Network. Today, our attention turns to the scenic Kern River Park where City Councilman Bob Smith joins us for an insightful conversation.

Today, our attention turns to the scenic Kern River Park where City Councilman Bob Smith joins us for an insightful conversation.

From Fresno to Bakersfield: Bob Smith’s Journey

Having grown up in Fresno and moved to Bakersfield shortly after obtaining his civil engineering degree, Smith has spent over 40 years operating his consulting business in engineering and planning. His involvement in Bakersfield’s growth over the years is marked by his passion for development work. His interest in urban development saw him initiate “Bike Bakersfield” in 2005, motivated by a burgeoning resurgence of bicycle and pedestrian activities in major cities.

Smith’s Life as an Everyday Bicycle Commuter

While some might see Smith’s entrance to the city council in 2012 as a pivotal point in his journey, he believes his commitment to the community is a continuum. Recounting his college days, biking to school, he still enjoys this mode of transport, earning him the title of an “everyday bicycle commuter.”

A Glimpse into Smith’s Daily Life

On being asked about his day-to-day activities, Smith describes a blend of administrative duties associated with city council meetings, development projects, and a drive to invigorate pedestrian activity in downtown Bakersfield. A recent venture includes partnering with his son to develop apartments downtown.

Challenges and Triumphs

Delving into the challenges he’s faced, Smith sheds light on the unpredictable nature of the land development business and the economic cycles of boom and bust. However, gaining unanimous support on the council was an uphill battle. It took nearly 11 years to realize his vision for safer streets.

Advice for the Green Tech Community

Smith’s counsel for cities and the broader green tech community is lucid: prioritize quality of life. With a nod to telecommuting, he envisions a Bakersfield with safer streets, open spaces, a vibrant downtown, and a river teeming with water.

Embracing Active Transportation

In the broader societal context, Smith emphasizes the shift from car-centric norms to active transportation. Reduced transportation costs, he points out, can be redirected to other necessities, benefiting disadvantaged communities.

Education: A Catalyst for Innovation

Smith underscores the importance of education in driving innovation. Citing Silicon Valley’s success due to the proximity of universities, he sees value in the synergy between educational establishments, the city, and the broader community.

Looking Ahead: Smith’s Vision for Bakersfield

In reflection, Smith’s aspiration for Bakersfield is a bustling city where people walk, bike, and communities flourish. While recognizing the challenges of reducing fossil fuel reliance, he remains hopeful about the city’s potential.

Connect with Councilman Bob Smith

To engage further or reach out to Councilman Bob Smith, his contact information is available on the city’s website.

What’s Next for Destination for Innovation?

This Week’s Special Guest: City Manager Christian Clegg

Get a glimpse this week into the life and career of City Manager Christian Clegg as he shares insights from his personal journey, including a transformative experience in Italy during his high school years.

Christian’s unique experiences, from his time in Italy to mastering multiple languages, have given him a diverse perspective on life, which he brings into his role as City Manager. Tune in on LinkedIn for the full this interview Friday September 08th.

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