Why is the City doing this?
With park amenities, gyms and pools closed, and trails packed with people, many Alameda residents are seeking other ways to safely exercise while maintaining the required physical distancing. It can be difficult to maintain 6’ or more of social distance on many sidewalks, park paths, and bikeways. Because of this, many people are choosing to walk in the street to maintain adequate physical distancing, exposing themselves to swiftly moving vehicle traffic. The City of Alameda is implementing a pilot program, Slow Streets, which will institute the "soft" closure of some streets to through traffic, allowing these roadways to be used as a shared space for people walking and rolling, while also allowing essential vehicle travel. The goal is to take advantage of lower vehicle traffic resulting from the shelter-in-place order imposed by Alameda County and the State, and allow more people to use our streets while maintaining social distancing.
Can I drive on a Slow Street?
While the City is implementing a “soft” closure, local access is still allowed, which means people who live on the street, or need to access a destination on the stretch of roadway that is closed, are allowed access. People in cars are encouraged to go very slowly and use extreme caution on these shared streets; other motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes.
Slow Streets will be in effect 24/7, given the limited staff resources to deploy/re-deploy equipment daily.
What does it look like on the street?
At select locations along the street, including at the beginning and end of the Slow Street segment, as well as at key intersections, the City will post closure signage on barricades stating “Road Closed to Thru Traffic.” Traffic cones will also be used to mark the change.
What activities are allowed on these Slow Streets?
- Low-speed activities including walking, biking, and running. People should maintain physical distancing and be mindful of each other regardless of mode of travel.
- Emergency vehicles, paratransit vehicles, and those whose final destination is on the street.
- People carrying out essential business activities, such as deliveries.
- Waste collection is allowed and will continue.
What activities are not allowed on these Slow Streets?
- Set-up of tables, chairs, play equipment, etc.
How were the streets selected?
The selected street segments are ones that already serve many people walking and biking, are low-traffic streets to minimize traffic disruption and are already a bicycle route and/or are being considered as future bicycle boulevards as part of the Active Transportation Plan effort underway. Results of the Slow Streets community survey were also considered in street selection.
Will this be expanded to more streets?
As of March 2021, no additional Slow Streets are being considered. The program is being evaluated and the City Council will decide on its future in September 2021.
What about all the other streets in the city?
Alameda strongly urges all drivers to drive slowly and safely, and to expect to see people walking and biking along ALL streets.
How is the City monitoring this?
City staff and volunteers will track the program’s effectiveness, monitor to ensure physical distancing is observed and modify efforts on an ongoing basis. A full evaluation of the program will take place in Summer 2021, to assist in determining the next steps for the program. City staff will work with community members and partners, including Bike Walk Alameda, to assist with outreach, including identifying Block Captains to help monitor, report issues, and replace signs and barricades, as needed. Sign up as a volunteer under the "Volunteer!" tab, to help out.
How will the City address enforcement?
The City will monitor the use of the streets, as noted above, but will not seek to ticket or financially penalize those who use the corridors as through streets. Instead, the City will aim to educate and raise awareness of the increasing prevalence of non-motorist use of the roadway and to encourage orderly, shared use of our roadways.
How can I be in touch with the City about this program and help spread the word?
If you have a location-specific maintenance issue, please report it on this web page (under "Request Service" above).
To stay in touch during the program evaluation period, please sign up HERE (coming).
Where else is this happening?
Alameda joined cities around the Bay Area (Oakland, San Francisco, Emeryville) and around the country (Seattle, Denver and more) in creating safe places to be physically active while we all responded to physical distancing mandates. Many of these cities are now determining how to maintain their Slow Streets into the future.