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.
Phase 1 - Implementation: 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, which installed intersection improvements at 21 locations to support residents’ safe access to essential services such as grocery stores, food distribution sites, and Covid-19 test sites. The City is working to improve the design and materials used at these locations to provide better protection for pedestrians.
In fall of 2020, the City received a grant from Smart Growth America to work with artist Jonathan Brumfield to pilot a solution for more aesthetically pleasing, sturdy Oakland Slow Streets barricades that better reflect East Oakland culture and still support safe distancing while traveling and exercising during the pandemic. Brumfield, in partnership with East Oakland residents, built a set of four barricade planters and a set of corresponding culturally-relevant signage.
Phase II - Program Evaluation and Context Specific Changes: Beginning in October 2020, OakDOT made location-specific changes in recognition that Slow Streets corridors were not working the same in every neighborhood. One corridor was evaluated and modified based on feedback from the neighborhood group that OakDOT had partnered with to implement the Slow Street. For some other corridors, surveys were sent to every resident/business to solicit feedback on that specific corridor. The resulting modifications included Slow Streets signage and barricades being upgraded to more durable materials and the installation of additional treatments at major cross-streets. With the reopening of schools in summer 2021, OakDOT removed some Slow Streets barricades at specific school locations in response to requests from those schools and to allow for AC Transit to resume its school bus routes. Additionally, OakDOT has replaced barricades and signs with more durable materials in spot locations to reduce the overall maintenance needed to sustain the program. A summary of modifications is available here.