In an effort to make it safer to walk, run and bike in Oakland during the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Libby Schaaf on Friday designated 74 miles of city streets for pedestrian, bicycle and local vehicle traffic only.
The so-called "Slow Streets" initiative started earlier this month and on Friday, the city released the next round of street closures, which will include East 19th Street staring at Lake Merritt.
Schaaf wants to open the streets to people who are trying to keep their social distance as they walk to work or try to get some exercise.
"Staying healthy means moving your body and you should move your body in your local neighborhood," said Ryan Russo from the Oakland Department of Transportation.
The mayor also wants to get drivers to slow down.
"We are taking this opportunity to try some new things," she said. "Oaklanders are very anxious right now and really trying hard to adjust to a radically different reality. We hope that this 'Slow Streets' movement will help give some joy, some recreation, some exercise in a safe and physically distanced way to Oakland families throughout the city."
The initiative applies to about 10% of the city's roadways. Those roads will not be closed to cars entirely. Local vehicle traffic, such as someone driving in their own neighborhood or someone making a delivery, is still OK.
If people drive on one of the designated streets without knowing it, they won't get a ticket at this point.
"Here will be people, children in streets, and frankly Oaklanders haven’t driven with the thought that at any moment a child could pop out between two parked cars and that’s how we should drive all the time," said Russo.
Councilman Noel Gallo is urging Oakland police and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office to crack down on speeding and sideshows that continue to happen during the stay-at-home order.
"We also have to protect and practice social safety," said Gallo.
Oakland says it is working with neighbors and community organizations to post signs and barricades along the designated slow streets.
Advocacy group, Walk Bike Berkeley, is hoping Berkeley city officials will feel inspired and follow Oakland’s lead.