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City Lowers Speed Limits in 11 Commercial Districts as part of California Pedestrian Safety Month

press conference participants in front of 20MPH sign

Oakland, CA– A new state law enables Oakland to lower speed limits in high traffic areas in the City. Today, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, Oakland Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Janani Ramachandran, Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) Director Fred Kelley, and other City leaders announced the first 11 locations that will see reduced speed limits and safer streets.

"September is California Pedestrian Safety Month and there is no better way to honor this occasion than by announcing the critical steps we are taking to save lives,” said Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao. “Oaklanders deserve safe streets while visiting our local shops, restaurants, and other businesses, and I’m proud to champion OakDOT’s work to create safer business activity districts.”

“Our local businesses are what help make Oakland the vibrant, diverse community it is,” said District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo. “Lower speed limits alongside simple improvements like enhanced crosswalks and bike lanes help create a pedestrian-friendly environment that supports our small merchants.”

“Losing Oaklanders due to traffic violence is unacceptable,” said Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas. “That is precisely why we are taking steps to not only lower speed limits but also to implement infrastructure improvements to make our streets safer for everyone.”

“Oakland has lost far too many lives due to traffic violence," said District 4 Councilmember Janani Ramachandran. "The call to action is clear - we must curb driving behavior. Lowering speed limits in commercial districts and school zones is one critical way that we can begin to change driver culture. I look forward to expanding this effort to every corner of the City. The more walkable we can make our neighborhoods, the safer they will become."

"AB43 (Friedman) and initiatives such as our Safe Oakland Streets (SOS) are essential due to the current state of traffic safety in Oakland. Our constituents have expressed deep concerns about reckless drivers, sideshow activity, and the trauma that comes with pedestrian injuries,” shared District 7 Councilmember Treva Reid. "In 2022 there were 3 traffic fatalities in District 7. Since August 2023 there have been 4 fatalities. I serve a District of majority Black and Brown residents who are the same community members disproportionately impacted by traffic fatalities. There is an urgent need to lower speed limits in our business activity districts and school zones, increase traffic calming measures, ensure adequate traffic enforcement, and install automated speed cameras. I believe AB 645 being signed into law by Governor Newsom will ensure that our youth, seniors, residents, and visitors will be able to travel our roads with an increased level of safety and peace of mind."

Every week, two Oaklanders are killed or severely injured in traffic crashes on city streets. Across California, 1,100 people were killed by drivers while walking in 2022. In one out of every four traffic fatalities in Oakland, unsafe speed plays a primary role.

“The traffic safety epidemic disproportionately impacts our historically underserved communities,” said Fred Kelley, Director of OakDOT. “That is why we are implementing lowered speed limits in business activity districts in our highest priority equity neighborhoods first and prioritizing locations on the High-Injury Network.”

The new lower speed limits come thanks to a state law (AB 43) that allows cities and local governments to put in place reduced speed limits in certain corridors. As part of implementing AB 43, OakDOT conducted a detailed analysis to identify more than 50 corridors totaling 25+ miles in Oakland that are eligible for 20 or 25 MPH Business Activity District speed limits. OakDOT anticipates implementing signage in all identified eligible Business Activity Districts, as feasible, by the end of 2025.

The initial 11 locations are as follows:

MacArthur Blvd (89th to 90th)

San Pablo Ave (William to South 16th)

Fruitvale Ave (E. 22nd St to E. 19th St)

11th St (Broadway to Harrison)

12th St (Broadway to Alice)

Fruitvale Ave (E. 15th St to E. 10th St)

Fruitvale Ave (Lynde St to Blossom St)

Foothill Blvd (Rutherford to High St)

Foothill Blvd (Congress to Cole St)

23rd Ave (Foothill to International)

14th St (Broadway to Oak)

Oakland Police Department (OPD) will conduct targeted traffic safety enforcement operations to help educate drivers of the new speed limits. For the first 30 days after a new speed limit sign is installed, only warning citations will be issued for violations exceeding the speed limit by up to 10 MPH.

To learn more about speed limit lowering in Business Activity Districts, and for a complete list of the eligible locations, visit https://www.oaklandca.gov/projects/lowering-speed-limits-in-business-improvement-districts.

About OakDOT's Safe Oakland Streets (SOS): Every week, two Oaklanders are killed or severely injured in traffic crashes on city 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 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 at www.oaklandca.gov/SOS.

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Posted: September 24th, 2023 5:16 PM

Last Updated: February 7th, 2024 12:28 PM

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