As shelter in place orders ease, cities are looking at how to gradually reopen business districts. East Bay cities are considering ways to reconfigure street space to allow for safe social distancing through expanded sidewalks, outdoor seating areas, and queuing space. Each city and business district has unique needs, and Bike East Bay continues to work closely with local advocacy partners to ensure that street changes prioritize health and safety, provide bike, pedestrian, and disability access to businesses, support local workers, and are implemented equitably.
Plans are developing quickly throughout the region. Here’s a roundup of what’s happening now.
Both of Alameda’s business districts, the Downtown Alameda Business Association (Park Street) and West Alameda Business Association (Webster Street), have requested street reconfigurations to accommodate business needs. Tonight, May 19, Alameda City Council will consider a Commercial Streets proposal from staff that includes changing two traffic lanes into expanded sidewalks and seating areas, as well as adding new loading zones and curbside management. The proposal also offers the option to convert private parking lots into restaurant seating, and fully close side streets that intersect the main business corridors.
Local advocates with Bike Walk Alameda are supporting the proposals, and asking the city to include additional bike parking as well as safe bike access to the business districts.
Mayor Jesse Arreguin announced last week that he will ask City Council to direct City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley to look into opening public spaces for outdoor dining in a way that maintains social distancing measures. The issue is on the City Council’s June 2 consent calendar. You can read more details from Berkeleyside. Bike East Bay and local group Walk Bike Berkeley are part of discussions to encourage this activity, while also ensuring safe access is maintained for bicycling and people with disabilities. Find details on how to join upcoming Berkeley City Council meetings.
In Livermore, city staff will create additional outdoor “parklet” seating in the downtown zone and in commercial parking lots throughout the city when requested by neighboring businesses. The city will also be converting most remaining street parking downtown to drop-off/pick-up only, and some retail vendors will be allowed to move shopping outside, subject to ADA access. Some evenings and weekends may close First Street to motor traffic entirely as health conditions improve.
After advocacy from your local leaders with Bike Walk Livermore, Council has also directed staff to create quick-build bike and pedestrian access improvements in the downtown area.