At the June 18, 2020 BPAC meeting, Nicole Ferrara, OakDOT Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Advisor, and Megan Wier, Safe Streets Division Manager, presented an overview of Oakland’s Slow Streets initiative in response to COVID-19, community engagement, its evolution to date, and planning for the next phase as the county gradually reopens. Here are the presentation slides, followed by a summary of discussion:
Summary of discussion:
- Locations were prioritized based initially on existing and proposed neighborhood bike routes, neighborhoods lacking easy access to parklands, and equity. After the initial very quick rollouts, priority is also being given to partnerships and collaborations with neighborhood groups.
- The program has been funded through countywide sales tax funds for transportation, and the City will be requesting reimbursement from FEMA as part of the City’s emergency response.
- In East Oakland, Slow Streets have been implemented on the Arthur/Plymouth corridor and on Ney Ave. Essential Places in East Oakland have been implemented at Bancroft Ave/Avenal Ave and three locations around Eastmont Town Center.
- The program has been notable for being quick and inexpensive in slowing traffic. Additional funds would be appreciated to continue and expand this meaningful work.
- There doesn’t seem to be much standardization on how streets are closed, in terms of the materials used. These issues can be reported through 311 using the “Slow Streets” category. The treatment is standard, but the materials are moving around and need to be monitored and put back in place. One speaker noted that this last weekend he observed multiple locations on Plymouth Ave where barricades had been moved out of the way and that signs were missing.
- Some streets have been closed around Lake Merritt, in part to address crowding issues at the lake.
- Slow Streets have been great for parents and kids being in the street together. However, this benefit is not distributed across Oakland, with the streets in North Oakland being more conducive to children playing than the streets in East Oakland, even with the partial street closures.
- Plan the future of Slow Streets so the Slow Streets form a network.