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Oakland Slow Streets FAQ

Date Posted: April 10th, 2020 @ 1:48 PM
Last Updated: April 22nd, 2021 @ 6:27 PM

Question: Can I request a Slow Street?

Answer: As of September 2020, no new specific installations are planned. Based on the Interim Findings Report, City staff will evaluate existing Slow Street Corridors and make context-specific changes based on observations, feedback received to date, and neighborhood level feedback focused in priority neighborhoods as defined by the Geographic Equity Toolbox.

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Question: Will the soft closures remain after the end of the shelter-in-place orders?

Answer: OakDOT is working to evaluate the possibility of the soft closures remaining after shelter-in-place order ends, based on legislation, input received to date and corridor-level engagement with residents.

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Question: How can I share my feedback on specific issues?

Answer: Please report any issues or concerns at https://www.oaklandca.gov/services/oak311.

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Question: What is a "soft closure"?

Answer: Soft closures includes signage that reads "Road Closed to Thru Traffic," warning signs alerting drivers to pedestrians/bicyclists, and barriers that typically block one lane of traffic. Installations are placed at key intersections where we anticipate the greatest number of turning vehicles. (See photos in the photo gallery at the bottom of www.oaklandca.gov/projects/oakland-slow-streets for examples.)

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Question: Are these streets closed to people performing essential services (emergency vehicles, waste collection, street sweeping, essential construction activities, deliveries, etc.)?

Answer: No. People driving to final destinations on corridors that are closed to through traffic may still use these streets to access final destinations. The City is working with mapping platforms to assist with routing that avoids these streets as much as possible.

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Question: If I live on a Slow Streets block, what do I do with my trash, compost and recycling carts?

Answer: Please continue to set out your trash, compost and recycling carts at the curb in front of your home as usual.

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Question: How does this impact me if I live on a street in the Oakland Slow Streets program, or need to use that street to access my final destination?

Answer: You can drive and park on your street. Please go slow if you need to drive on any Slow Street block to access your destination.

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Question: How do Slow Streets affect access to schools?

Answer: As always, we encourage everyone to walk and bike to school whenever possible and with reduced traffic on our streets, especially Slow Streets, this is a great time to do so! If you do need to drive to school, and the school is located on a Slow Street, school pick-up and drop-off trips and staff access are not considered “through traffic" and are permitted under the Slow Street program guidelines. However, drivers should drive very carefully on Slow Streets expecting bicyclists and pedestrians in the roadway. Where schools are not located on Slow Streets, but Slow Streets have been used for school circulation, we encourage caregivers and staff to use alternate routes. Asking drivers to avoid Slow Streets reduces the burden on maintenance crews and ensures that Slow Streets are consistently available for people walking and bicycling. OakDOT may permit temporary suspension of Slow Streets to support important special events such as “drive-by” graduation ceremonies or supply pick-up days. School administrators with specific requests should contact OakDOT staff via the Oakland Call Center (311 or 510-615-5566).

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Question: Why are there are orange cones blocking left turn lanes from major streets onto Slow Streets?

Answer: The orange cones are to alert drivers that the street onto which they are attempting to turn is closed to all but local traffic. They serve as advance notice before the turn is attempted. As with all Slow Streets, people that live on the street or who are making deliveries, repairs, etc. may drive in--slowly and carefully. All motorists should use alternative routes, when feasible.

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Question: Does this program impact AC Transit routes, service or accessibility?

Answer: No, all AC Transit routes and service will run as scheduled. Paratransit may access these corridors to serve clients. Please visit http://www.actransit.org/ for the most up to date information on transit service.

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Question: What is the community engagement process for the the current phase of the Slow Streets program, Phase II: Corridor Level Engagement and Context Specific Changes?

Answer: We recognize that Slow Streets are not working the same for every neighborhood. For that reason, surveys are being sent to every resident/business along each slow street corridor soliciting feedback on that specific corridor. Corridors are being reached out to in order of priority level as defined by the Geographic Equity Toolbox and maintenance needs. Based on the feedback, we will either upgrade the Slow Street signage and barricades to more durable materials and make other context specific changes or remove the Slow Street.

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Question: What has been the community engagement process for the Slow Streets program Phase I: Implementation?

Answer: The Slow Streets program was developed very rapidly in response to Covid-19 and had minimal public engagement at the start. The City relied on previous engagement that developed the Neighborhood Bike Routes. We acknowledge that we could have started with much more thorough engagement process. After the initial launch the City employed the following strategies:

  • Released a list and map of potential streets for soft closures approximately weekly and seek community, City Council and partner agency feedback before finalizing the list for implementation.
  • Released a survey for community members to share their feedback on proposed streets.
  • Released a survey for feedback on the program as whole: https://tinyurl.com/oaklandslowstreets, (those without web access can call 311).
  • Release a new map-based survey to gather feedback.
  • Convened virtual meetings with community and neighborhood groups in disadvantaged neighborhoods to develop adjustments to the program to meet the needs of Oakland’s most vulnerable residents (ongoing). (These meetings were the inspiration for the pivot to Essential Places.)
  • Issued press and social media announcements shared by the City and community partners regularly using the #OaklandSlowStreets hashtag.

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Question: What can be done about drivers not following the Slow Streets guidelines?

Answer: The closures are partial to allow residents to access their homes, as well as to allow mail delivery, garbage collection, and emergency access; the intent is that there is no need for police enforcement. The Interim Findings Report determined that some Slow Streets have too much traffic, and OakDOT is going through an evaluation process of each of the 21 Slow Streets corridors. This corridor-specific evaluation may lead to the following outcomes: installation of more substantial barricades and signs to provide additional deterrence to through traffic; re-routing of the Slow Street to a more suitable street; or the removal of the Slow Street.

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Question: How did the City select the initial Oakland Slow Streets Corridors?

Answer: The initial street list consisted of streets proposed as Neighborhood Bike Routes in Oakland’s Bike Plan. These streets had been previously identified through the robust and equity-driven engagement process for the Bike Plan, and were mostly residential streets throughout the city. Subsequently, the list of potential Slow Streets was shortened to remove streets with AC Transit service, near hospitals/fire stations, and streets with no alternative routes for through traffic. Later, Slow Streets were selected in partnership with community partners like the Lincoln Recreation Center in Chinatown and the Walkable Neighbors for Seniors Palos Verdes Walk Club.