The City of Oakland Slow Streets Program was launched in April 2020 as part of the City’s Covid-19 response. It was intended to support safe physical activity and alleviate overcrowding in parks and on trails by discouraging through traffic on certain local streets. The program was rolled out over a period of three months. “Soft closure” barriers were installed to support the use of over 21 street miles throughout the city for physically distant walking, wheelchair rolling, jogging, and biking.
Another phase of the program, Slow Streets: Essential Places, was launched in May 2020, installing intersection improvements to support residents’ safe access to essential services such as grocery stores, food distribution sites, and Covid-19 test sites. As of July 2020, 15 such improvements had been installed. The City is working to improve the design and materials used at these locations to provide better protection for pedestrians.
There have been no new installations since July. Existing corridors will be evaluated this fall and context specific changes will be made. Based on feedback received to date, OakDOT plans to create a new pop-up, request-based Slow Streets program in 2021.
Outreach, Survey, and Analysis Findings
The City conducted outreach and three surveys throughout the program. Real-time results from this survey are available here. An interim findings report based on the surveys as well as reports to the Oakland Call Center (311/See Click Fix) can be found here. Key findings from the report include:
- Oakland Slow Streets created space for physical activity without impeding essential street functions.
- Oakland Slow Streets received a lot of positive support.
- Support and use of Oakland Slow Streets varied by demographic and geographic group with the highest levels of support from higher income, White, and North Oakland residents. Essential workers and Deep East Oakland residents shared that the program was not meeting their needs and felt the program conﬂicted with public health messaging.
- Oakland Slow Streets communications are not reaching enough Oaklanders.
- Trafﬁc safety is a more important transportation issue during Covid-19 than creating space for physical activity for many Oaklanders, especially those in high priority neighborhoods where telecommuting isn’t as prevalent. Cones and barricades are not sustainable materials for implementing partial street closures for the duration of the pandemic due to maintenance and replacement materials costs.
Recommendations for continuing the program past Shelter-In-Place include:
- Evaluate existing Slow Street Corridors and make context-speciﬁc changes depending on feedback from the neighborhood.
- Continue the Slow Streets Corridors and Essential Places Program through the end of the Shelter-In-Place order.
- Channel the enthusiasm for Slow Streets into equitable and sustainable programs like pop-up Slow Streets and neighborhood level trafﬁc calming.