Oakland Slow Streets FAQ

Date Posted: April 10th, 2020 @ 1:48 PM
Last Updated: June 18th, 2020 @ 4:24 PM

This page will be updated as questions arise and is divided into two sections: Basics and Street Selection/Status.


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.)


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

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Question: What is the status of future Slow Streets installations?

Answer: As of June 2020, nearly 20 miles of Slow Streets had been designated. The City is now expanding the Program and shifting its emphasis to the Slow Streets: Essential Places program, which promotes traffic safety and community awareness at COVID-19 testing sites, food distribution sites, and grocery stores located on major streets. This evolution responds to extensive community feedback and engagement from community leaders on the importance of traffic safety for essential workers and for residents accessing essential services. The City may implement additional Slow Streets soft closures during Summer 2020, but on a more limited basis. The installation of new Slow Streets corridors would be the result of extensive community engagement with low-income communities, communities of color, and other vulnerable groups. This equity driven approach will focus on the gaps in the existing Slow Streets network in communities with limited access to parks and open space – including East Oakland and Chinatown.


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

Answer: The initial street list consisted of streets designated 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.


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

Answer: The City is evaluating the results of the program and community engagement efforts to determine next steps. Longer-term outcomes depend on available funding and community support, and could include removing soft closures, having them only on weekends, or making them permanent. Different approaches could be applied to different streets based on community sentiment and transportation needs relevant to each street.


Question: What is the community engagement process for the Slow Streets program?

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 done a much more thorough engagement process. After the initial launch the City employed the following strategies:

  • ReleaseD 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).
  • 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).
  • Issued press and social media announcements shared by the City and community partners regularly using the #OaklandSlowStreets hashtag.