The City of Oakland Slow Streets Program is intended to support safe physical activity by creating more space for physical distancing for all Oaklanders by declaring that all Slow Streets with and without soft closure barriers are Closed to Through Traffic so that people can more comfortably use these low-traffic streets for physically distant walking, wheelchair rolling, jogging, and biking all across the City.
The Slow Streets program launched on Saturday, 4/11/2020 with "soft closures" including signage, traffic cones and barricades. As of 6/5/2020, the City will have installed over 20 miles of slow streets along 19 corridors throughout the City.
The Slow Streets: Essential Places program launched on Friday, May 22 with intersection improvements to support residents’ safe access to essential services such as grocery stores, food distribution sites and COVID-19 test sites. As of 6/5/2020 the City will have installed five Slow Streets: Essential Places intersection improvements throughout the City.
All Slow Streets corridors and intersections are displayed on the map on this page and here: https://arcg.is/0buDHy, and a timeline of our progress is also available on this page.
This program is also intended to discourage drivers from using ALL Oakland Slow Streets unless necessary to reach a final destination, and urges all drivers to drive slowly and safely, expect to see people walking and biking along ALL streets, as our hospitals are facing unprecedented challenges and don't need any additional patients. This effort does not impact emergency vehicle access in any way.
The City installs four new Slow Streets: Essential Places treatments on June 5, 2020:
- San Pablo Ave & Myrtle St: Intersection safety improvements at a crossing to Community Foods. Safety improvements will include cones for a bulb-out (for wider turns at corners), permanent two-sided pedestrian crossing signage in the median, and coning off a lane on San Pablo Avenue at the crosswalk using cones and signage. Closing a lane in this way has proven safety benefits to reducing collision threads; provides a visual signal to drivers to slow down; and addresses the excessive street capacity that encourages speeding.
- Three Eastmont Mall Area Intersections (73rd Ave & Garfield Ave; Bancroft & Church St; Bancroft & 73rd Ave): Improvements include deactivation of the pedestrian push buttons to reduce exposure to high touch surfaces, and ensure pedestrians who don’t push the button have sufficient time to cross intersections. The Eastmont Mall provides critical essential services including food distribution at the Library and a grocery store.
The Essential Places initiative is an evolution of Slow Streets driven by community feedback and advocacy, especially from East Oakland residents and community groups. While the Oakland Slow Streets program overall continues to receive overwhelming support among community survey respondents, those responding to surveys are more likely to be white, have high incomes and live in North Oakland. City staff are continuing dedicated efforts to engage directly with East Oakland community groups to adapt the program in response to the input those groups have provided.
The City continues to encourage community members to share their feedback on Slow Streets:
- Survey on Slow Streets Program: https://tinyurl.com/oaklandslowstreets (or contact OAK311 via phone)
- Real-time results from this survey are available at: https://tinyurl.com/oaklandslowstreetssurveyresult
The City announces next steps regarding future Slow Streets Installations
The City of Oakland may implement additional Slow Streets soft closures during Summer 2020, but those plans are limited as OakDOT shifts focus to traffic safety at Essential Places and planning for the future of existing Slow Streets. Reflecting this shift in focus, the interactive map on the Slow Streets web page will be locked to additional input at 5pm on Monday, June 8. Any potential installation of new Slow Streets would be the result of extensive community engagement in low income communities and communities of color. 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, Chinatown, and other vulnerable neighborhoods and communities.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON OAKLAND SLOW STREETS
“Oakland Slow Streets” does the following:
- Declare "Road Closed to Through Traffic" on all Oakland Slow Streets for the Duration of the Emergency or until otherwise indicated by the City of Oakland. (74 miles, nearly 10% of Oakland streets; see map on this page.) Note: these streets are not closed to emergency vehicles or local traffic that must use these streets to access a final destination.
- City Provided Signage/Barricades at Key Locations. At selected locations, such as intersections with arterial streets, post closure signage. The City will prioritize posting signage on routes in underserved communities.
- Promote Physically Distant Physical Activity. With nearly 10% of City streets identified as closed to through traffic, residents can safely distance themselves from neighbors when walking, jogging, and biking along these streets. Always maintain at least 6 feet of space from others.
- Amplify the City’s Capacity with Partners. Work with community organizations and civic leaders to complement City-led interventions – communications and outreach, additional signage, evaluation, and potential community-designed traffic calming ("tactical urbanism"); building up participation over time, subject to observation/evaluations.
- Measure Impact and Modify Overtime. Our cities are adapting faster than ever before due to COVID-19. The program plans to evaluate the efficacy of our efforts overtime and make any relevant adjustments.
"Oakland Slow Streets" doesn't do the following:
- Encourage social gathering or events on any of these streets. Always maintain at least 6 feet of physical space from others.
- Limit access for emergency vehicles or close streets to people that must use them to access a final destination.
- Seek to ticket or financially penalize those who use the corridors as through streets.
- Affect AC Transit bus routes or service.
To begin Saturday 4/11 and be in effect until the Shelter-in-Place order sunsets, or as otherwise indicated by the City of Oakland.
All Oakland Slow Streets are also displayed on the map on this page. This map has been updated since our initial launch to: remove transit routes, address conflicts with healthcare and emergency service facilities, remove streets that don’t have any alternative routes, and add new streets based on community feedback. The City is encouraging drivers to avoid these streets unless using them to reach a final destination.
- City of Oakland is declaring emergency Road Closed to Through Traffic streets and will install signs/barricades at key intersections. Not all intersections will receive City-led signage; signage will be prioritized for more major intersections and in Oakland's lower income communities of color that have fewer existing Neighborhood Bike Routes. Signs will be phased in over time. These "soft closures" started on Saturday, 4/11/2020 and continue to expand. Please see the maps on this page for the most current network.
- Drivers should avoid these streets unless it's absolutely necessary to access your home, or in emergency situations. Please review the map on this page and locate any routes near your home. If you live on a route or plan to walk or bike along a route, see the ways you can help amplify the City's message below and provide feedback.
- Drivers should drive slowly on all streets and expect to encounter people walking and biking. Although there are fewer other cars on the road, there are more people getting fresh air and physical activity on our streets all across the City than ever before. Hospitals don't need additional patients!
- Oaklanders must obey physical distancing at ALL times. Reminder: these streets are for jogging, walking, family and individual biking, not for playing outside of individual households, maintain at least 6’ distance from others outside your immediate household.
- Oaklanders can provide input and amplify message by:
- Take our user survey: https://tinyurl.com/oaklandslowstreets
- Downloading, printing and posting the promotional sign in the documents section below along the Slow Street corridors - on poles, your own parked vehicle, and/or other tools on-hand (neon pedestrian at play figures, traffic cones, etc.).
- Volunteer by completing this form: https://forms.gle/3iQqJerU84cxpjodA
- Using #OaklandSlowStreets to post photos of users' experiences on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Please help report any issues, such as signs that have been knocked down on 311.
COVID-19 Has Us Locked In. The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is changing lifestyles around the globe. As Bay Area Shelter-in-Place orders extend and expand, the City of Oakland Department of Transportation is considering ways that we can increase Oaklanders’ access to open space and provide increased social distancing immediately. Streets and sidewalks make up 20% of all the land in Oakland and can be a resource to make sure we stay healthy during this prolonged period of sheltering in place.
Parks are Crowded or Closed. On March 31, 2020 the Alameda County Health Officer issued an updated order (No. 20-4) that applies additional restrictions on recreational activities in parks, while also acknowledging outdoor recreational activities such as walking, bicycling and running, as essential activities if done in compliance with social distancing requirements as defined in the order in Section 13.a.iii, and Section 13.k (http://www.acphd.org/2019-ncov.aspx). This updated health order is interpreted by the City to encourage physical activity, but forbid activity in playgrounds, picnic areas, fields, courts and discourage crowding at parks.
COVID-19 Exacerbates Inequities. Oaklanders have inequitable access to parks and open space and the lack of safe space to be active further exacerbates existing equity issues confronting Oakland’s high priority communities: lower wage earners and single parent households are most at risk of the unintended consequences of COVID-19 related prevention measures—less likely to have jobs where they can work from home, more at risk for layoffs, and less likely to have support in childcare. OakDOT seeks to reduce barriers to opportunities for physical activity and ensure safe transportation for our most vulnerable community members.
Vehicle Trips are Down, Vehicle Speeds are Up. As a result of health orders, the City and region have experienced a dramatic decrease in vehicle trips. Simultaneously, community members are encouraged to maintain physical activity for associated mental and physical health benefits during this stressful time. Reduced vehicle traffic creates an opportunity for increased walking, jogging and biking in compliance with social distancing protocols. However, reduced vehicle traffic can also result in speeding on neighborhood streets, in the same places that people are walking, jogging and biking.
People are Using Streets as Shared Public Spaces. With COVID-19, we’re seeing people take to the streets more than ever. In order to maintain at least 6 feet of space from a neighbor, people are walking from the sidewalk into the street or crossing to the other side, or putting their families on bikes and strolling around the neighborhood to get exercise when vehicle traffic is low.
Physical Activity Needs to Occur in Your Neighborhood on Our Streets. Acknowledging that all Oaklanders have access to public streets, and that our streets and sidewalks have become places where people get their daily activity—and will even more so with the expanded and extended Health Order issued March 31st—OakDOT is proposing to encourage community members to use readily available materials to keep their physical activity local and check out an “Oakland Slow Street" on foot or bike, but to avoid these streets on cars unless you must travel along one to get to/from your home.
Existing City Plan Identifies Strategic Neighborhood Streets. “Oakland Slow Streets” builds on the 2019 City of Oakland Bicycle Plan, Let’s Bike Oakland, which engaged over 3,500 Oaklanders to develop the plan and proposed street network. The Plan identifies an existing and proposed Neighborhood Bike Routes, which are a set of mostly residential streets that don’t conflict with transit routes, have been vetted by the public, partner departments/agencies, and City leaders, and connect communities across the City. All of these existing and proposed routes are part of the "Oakland Slow Streets" program.