Oakland's Slow Streets Program Could Last Beyond Shelter Orders, Says Mayor

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 19: Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf looks on during an assembly at Edna Brewer Middle School about the U.S. Constitution on January 19, 2018 in Oakland, California. Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf discussed the U.S. Constitution with middle sc
Photo credit Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf says the city’s popular “Slow Streets” program could continue even after the coronavirus pandemic has passed.

“Absolutely, Slow Streets has definitely been one of the silver linings,” Mayor Schaaf tells KCBS Radio. “People are loving it.”

Oakland was the first Bay Area city to close about 20 miles of city streets to cars to give residents more room to recreate under shelter-in-place orders. Reduced vehicle traffic and an increase in residents getting outdoor recreation has created some crowds in city parks, so the program was designed to create more room for physical distancing.

“We have been very intentional in bringing our first slow streets out in parts of the city that are not as close to some of our big parks and open spaces and our lake,” says Mayor Schaaf. “Please people, give the lake a break. We need you to use these slow streets because Lake Merritt is getting too crowded.”

The mayor’s comments come as city officials announced Thursday that an additional five miles of streets will be closed as part of the program.

“It has been wonderful to see families just really enjoying it and I am definitely hearing from people, they do not want this to go away,” said Schaaf. “This is a great time to experiment and if we like things, why not keep them?”

The following streets were added to the program as of Friday and will see soft closures: E 23rd Street, 26th Avenue, 25th Avenue, E 29th Street, Shafter Avenue, 48th Street, Tiffin Road, Potomac Street, Laguna Avenue, Carmel Street, Coolidge Avenue, Morgan Avenue, Maple Avenue, Wisconsin Street, Patterson Avenue, Bayo Street and portions of Sheffield Avenue, Webster Street and Steele Street.

Barriers, cones and signs have been posted to indicate the closures.