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The Return of Oakland’s Slow Streets

Author: Bike East Bay

Date: February 27, 2023

illustration silhouette of a person doing a wheelie on a bicycle - Oakland tree logo and the word "SLOW" below
Illustration of two Oakland slow streets signs, one showing a silhouette of two children running and holding hands, and another showing the silhouette of a scraper bike rider doing a wheelie

50 miles of traffic-calmed, bike/walk friendly streets are on the way in Oakland, via neighborhood paving efforts over the next 5 years.

SLOW STREETS HISTORY

Oakland’s Slow Streets program closed residential streets to through car traffic starting in April 2020, and opened them to all people walking and rolling (see our previous coverage here).

Originally planned as a 74 mile network, at its peak the program covered 21 miles across town. This included some well used segments lovingly decorated by neighbors, but also some areas with less activity and success.

A year ago Oakland ended this program with short notice, citing staff capacity limitations to adequately plan & maintain it. Ever since then we have worked with the Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) to bring Slow Streets back more sustainably.

Now, we are very excited to share this announcement from the city about the planned return of this program.

NEIGHBORHOOD BIKE ROUTES

Even before the pandemic we were coordinating with staff on a plan to enhance the minimum design standards for Oakland’s Neighborhood Bike Routes (NBRs).

This included traffic calming on every block and at each intersection of these proposed routes citywide, and culminated in this 2021 design guide.

But since that 2021 guide was published there is now an interest in taking it even further, so these facilities will be incorporated into the Slow Streets network for more upgrades.

SLOW STREETS VERSION 2

Thanks to the 75% of Oaklanders who voted to pass Measure U, a massive amount of repaving is on the way, including 50 miles of existing or proposed Neighborhood Bike Routes. As the paving is implemented these corridors will all receive Slow Streets treatments over the next 5 years.

A presentation with concepts about what these Slow Streets designs should entail is available here, including reduced speed limits, traffic calming, custom signage & markings, and more.

The city will implement some design features on every segment with a basic notification/input process.

Others features like car diverters can be included but triggering a more in-depth study & outreach process, looking at the full neighborhood to also address impacts on side streets.

Oakland’s 2023 paving work will kick off soon, including several of these proposed Slow Street corridors.

So we encourage everyone to visit the project site, look at the presentation materials, and send questions or comments to [email protected].

I WANT A SLOW STREET IN MY OAKLAND NEIGHBORHOOD, WHAT DO I DO?

Nothing yet. OakDOT staff are still in the process of figuring out how this will work with regard to communications and construction, and how they will be able to do it efficiently to stay ahead of the 5-year paving plan schedule.

Check out Oakland’s paving plan here to see which streets are included and during what year the paving will occur.

If your street is not on the paving map, then additional Slow Streets requests will likely be accepted during a future update of the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP).

I'M NOT IN OAKLAND AND I WANT A SLOW STREET IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD, WHAT DO I DO?

Contact your local elected officials and city staff and let them know, and share this webpage and the linked presentation and design guide files.

These plans and design standards are available to anyone and should be replicable elsewhere, so the work happening now makes it even easier for other cities to say “yes” next.

If we can help answer any questions, send us an email at [email protected].

Bike East Bay champions a more connected, accessible Bay Area. Want to support other visionary projects, now and for the future? Become a member or donate today.

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