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Are the Bay Area’s Slow Streets Here for Good?

by | May 1, 2020 | Pedestrian Safety, Public Transit

On April 11, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the first of 74 miles of planned street closures in Oakland. The City of Oakland Slow Streets Program intends to support safe physical activity while creating more space to do so.

The program was mostly well received; soon after, San Francisco, Emeryville, and Alameda launched their own slow streets. (Berkeley has had certain streets closed to through traffic since the 1970s.) Even Portland, Oregon has gotten in on the action and closed 100 miles of streets to through traffic.

I support slow streets initiatives. While we follow shelter-in-place orders, these quiet streets give everyone more places to safely run, walk and bike without worry of car traffic. Take a walk around Lake Merritt any time after 7 a.m. and you’ll see why we need more space to roam.

However, if residents don’t want their street closed, perhaps it should stay open. For example, KALW reports that residents on East 16th street, near Fruitvale, keep removing road closure signs. Pedestrians stick to the sidewalks because one side of the street remains open to vehicles, causing a dangerous situation at East 16th and Fruitvale Ave. Some quiet streets also attract sideshows and reckless drivers, both of which can lead to serious accidents.

Where to Find Slow Streets
Bay Area cities are rolling out slow streets a little at a time. In Oakland, slow streets include:

  • 42nd Street from Broadway to Adeline.
  • Dover Street from 52st Street to Alcatraz.
  • 32nd Street from San Pablo Ave. to Mandela Parkway.
  • West Street from W. Grand Ave. to 14th Street.
  • East 16th Street from Fruitvale Ave. to 23rd Ave.
  • Brookdale Ave. from Fruitvale Ave. to Kingsland Ave.

Review this map for more current and upcoming Oakland slow streets.

In Emeryville, you’ll find Doyle Street closed to through traffic. Mixed reviews on execution.

In San Francisco, you’ll find slow street at:

  • Page, from Gough to Stanyan.
  • Ellis in the Tenderloin.
  • John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park (temporarily closed to vehicles).
  • 41st Avenue.
  • The Great Highway (temporarily closed to vehicles).

More streets in the inner and outer Sunset district are planned to slow.

Alameda has also jumped on the bandwagon. Starting April 30, Pacific Avenue between Grand and Oak Streets will be closed to through traffic, as well as Versailles between Central Avenue and Fernside Boulevard.

What do you think about the slow streets movement? Let us know in the comments below.