This report presents the results of a mixed-methods study of the 2020-2022 Oakland Slow Streets program. An official response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the program used signs and temporary barricades to limit thru-traffic on 21 miles of city streets to create more and safer space for walking, cycling, and outdoor recreation. Researchers collected data throughout the summer of 2021 on seven designated slow streets plus one cross street and one control street for each – a total of 21 street segments representing conditions in seven different neighborhoods across Oakland. Data collection comprised in- person passerby counts, observations and photographs of local conditions, and logged traffic speed data. Findings vary widely across study sites. In certain cases, observed slow streets saw less car traffic or more bicycle/pedestrian use than one or both of their comparison streets, and in at least one case the slow street was clearly embraced by the local community and used as planners intended; in others the slow street was no different than neighboring streets. The study draws on these findings to identify local conditions that seem likely to make slow treet treatments more or less successful. However, acknowledging that all neighborhoods deserve safer streets and greater outdoor recreational opportunities, the authors argue that better community outreach must be implemented to ensure areas not predisposed to make full use of slow streets can have the opportunity to do so. The study also makes suggestions regarding the potential for rapid, low-cost bike and pedestrian street safety improvements going forward.
GORDON DOUGLAS, PHD
Gordon Douglas is an Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at San José State University, where he serves as Director of the Institute for Metropolitan Studies.
David Moore is a Project Coordinator at Civic Thread. He received his Master’s in Urban Planning at SJSU with an emphasis in transportation and land use.