Oakland, CA – As Oakland’s kids and families are readjusting and continuing to come back to school, including today’s celebration of Walk to School Day, the City of Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) has been hard at work to ensure that their trips are safe, building on years of investment and installing new improvements.
“Providing safety for every Oaklander is the City’s highest priority and most sacred responsibility,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “School safety is essential to supporting our families and our children, and as this work moves forward my fellow parents can breathe a bit easier -- even as we acknowledge we have much more to do. I’m grateful to the dedicated staff at OakDOT, our incredible partners in Oakland schools, and to our community for making this progress happen.”
“At OakDOT we know that every crash is preventable, and nowhere do we feel the importance of that more strongly than around Oakland’s schools,” OakDOT Director Ryan Russo said. “Not only are children among our most vulnerable community members – but our schools tend to be close to the busiest streets where many crashes occur. So this work demands our very best, and we are dedicated every single day to delivering the safest street conditions to the families that depend on those streets to get to and from school.”
OakDOT maintains data on the City’s high-injury network, just 6% of Oakland streets where 60% of severe and fatal crashes occur. A recent department analysis found 43% of Oakland schools are within 500 feet of a street on that network – underscoring the importance of investments in school transportation safety.
Some of the department’s recent work includes engaging seven schools in developing safety improvements in advance of the school year, including:
- Improved school bus loading areas with curb paint and signage at two schools
- Improved drop-off areas with curb paint and signage at three schools
- Painted high-visibility crosswalks at 11 intersections
- Improved school crosswalks with warning signage at two schools
- Improved traffic control with other signs and markings at two schools
- Curb extensions to improve pedestrian visibility at two schools
Traffic crashes are the second most prevalent cause of death for Oakland's youth and OakDOT is working to address that through Safe Oakland Streets, a Citywide initiative that focuses on strategies that will save lives and deliver equitable outcomes.
Crossing Guards: 48 crossing guards are currently deployed at schools across Oakland - predominantly serving Oakland Unified School District Elementary Schools. The program lost several staff during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place and is working to recruit and hire from the Oakland community to increase this service.
School Safety Patrols: Oakland’s School Safety Patrols are a volunteer-led program focused on safe crossings, drop-off/pick-up zones, leadership training and community service at elementary schools. Like the crossing guards program, this initiative is working to rebuild momentum as schools reopen. Three elementary schools and other schools working to come on board for this collaborative effort between OakDOT, ACPHD, and AAA of Northern California.
Paving: Schools are prioritized with our paving projects – and in the past two years over 400 high visibility crosswalks on routes to schools have been painted in coordination with paving projects.
Parking Enforcement Support: OakDOT’s Parking Enforcement Unit has increased the presence of Parking Control Technicians around schools to support safe access for students and others in the community. OakDOT staff provide a focused presence to promote safety and decrease double-parking and blocking driveways, and maintaining safe access for dropping off and picking up students.
Alameda County collaboration: OakDOT partners with the Alameda County Safe Routes to School program, led by the Alameda County Transportation Commission, to perform school safety assessments at schools in Oakland every year. During the school year OakDOT will be developing and implementing capital projects identified in those assessments.
OAK311 Service Requests: Oaklanders are encouraged to use OAK311 to report any public maintenance needs – and schools are prioritized as a part of traffic safety service requests.
Here's some of what's coming up next:
Park Boulevard (breaking ground winter 2021/2022) – Extensive intersection safety improvements to improve pedestrian, cyclist and overall traffic safety, including for students walking and biking to school, at two intersections near Edna Brewer Middle School: https://www.oaklandca.gov/projects/crossing-to-safety-project
Thornhill and Montclair Elementary Safe Routes to Schools project (construction underway, anticipated completion winter 2021/2022): https://www.oaklandca.gov/projects/thornhill-srts
Ney Avenue Neighborhood Traffic Calming Plan is currently in design and will include several improvements for streets around Parker Elementary School that are anticipated to begin construction in spring 2022: https://www.oaklandca.gov/projects/ney-avenue-neighborhood-traffic-calming
Get Involved: Here are some additional ways community members can participate to help make a difference in their community:
- Safe Oakland Streets – Every week, two Oaklanders are killed or severely injured in traffic crashes on our streets. These crashes disproportionately harm people in Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities, people with disabilities, seniors, and low-income communities. Crashes are a leading cause of death among Oakland youth. All traffic crashes are preventable. Safe Oakland Streets (SOS) is a Citywide initiative that is taking a new approach to preventing traffic crashes. Our approach focuses on strategies that will save lives and deliver equitable outcomes. We are working across departments and government agencies and building partnerships with communities most affected by these life-and-death issues. Learn more and join us at www.oaklandca.gov/SOS
- Traffic Safety Service Requests – Learn more about requesting traffic safety improvements in your neighborhood by going to https://www.oaklandca.gov/topics/traffic-safety-requests.
- Apply to be a Crossing Guard – OakDOT is working now to grow the team of crossing guards that serve Oakland schools. Applications will be open soon – to inquire about this opportunity please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Engage with Your Schools: OakDOT and OUSD staff meet regularly to discuss school traffic safety concerns. The best way for a parent to elevate a traffic safety issue is to raise their concern with school officials, who will discuss them with OUSD transportation staff. As different parents may have different ideas about their school traffic needs, this process ensures that requests are consistent within and between schools and on the radar of school officials. OakDOT is able to act on almost every request that comes through this referral structure with OUSD.
- Contact OAK311: To request public maintenance services in Oakland, residents can dial 311 from any phone within Oakland. (If calling from outside Oakland, use the number 510-615-5566.) You can also contact OAK311 by email at OAK311@oaklandca.gov, online at 311.oaklandca.gov, or by using the OAK311 free mobile app available for Apple and Android smart devices (powered by SeeClickFix)
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