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June 11, 2019

Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan recklessly proposed last week to disband the Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT), fire Director Ryan Russo, and remerge transportation responsibilities with Public Works, all as part of a budget amendment. A swift counter response by Transport Oakland, with support from Bike East Bay and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, convinced enough Councilmembers to withhold support for this harmful proposal. Caving to the backlash, Kaplan replaced her merger request with a request for clarity on the respective roles of OakDOT and Public Works. 

From our partners at Transport Oakland: “The City of Oakland just went through a major effort to create OakDOT, work that is already paying dividends: from developing a groundbreaking equity-oriented paving plan, advancing a record number of sustainable transportation projects to improve walking/cycling/transit, to getting out into The Town to hear directly from Oakland residents to begin to repair broken trust in government from long neglected corners of the City.” 

Having an equity-based approach to prioritizing projects is essential. It means having decision-making frameworks for planning and project development that take into account the historic disinvestment in neighborhoods across Oakland. In order to fulfill Bike East Bay’s mission as transportation justice advocates and build a more just and equitable transportation system, we must take into account our society’s systematic inequalities, including those based on race, class, gender, ability, and geography. Having a department within the city that is pushing groundbreaking plans to rectify that historic disinvestment is crucial. 

Thank you Transport Oakland for leading and to Walk Oakland Bike Oakland for joining us in challenging the closure.

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