City Hosts Final ‘Slow Streets’ Meeting Monday

During the pandemic, the city blocked 4.7 miles of “Slow Streets” to through automobile traffic to provide more space for physical activity at a distance. Officials invite you to help decide what’s next for the Slow Streets program at next Monday’s open house.
City of Alameda

City Hosts Final ‘Slow Streets’ Meeting Monday

In April 2020, the City of Alameda began implementing what it called “soft closures” on some of its streets.

The program was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city intended these closures to encourage social distancing. Over time, the city limited traffic using this “soft-closure” approach on five of its streets (see box accompanying this story).

Limiting automobile traffic on these streets has helped the city create places for residents to safely walk, run, bike, scooter and roll.

The city plans to review the slow street program this October and is finalizing plans to strengthen some of its features and test out new features that include temporary traffic circles and speed cushions.

The city is currently evaluating the program to determine if, and how, “Slow Streets” will continue beyond Oct. 31 the current Council-approved expiration date.

SPUR, a Bay Area, nonprofit public policy organization has posed the question whether at least some of the “Slow Streets” should remain a permanent fixture on our landscape.

“Many fear that these urban assets that they’ve come to love will also return to their pre-pandemic status,” SPUR points out on its website.

The organization poses the question: Do slow streets have a permanent future and, more importantly, how do we make them more equitable when doing so? Some major cities have already done this.

Current slow streets

1. On Orion Street between West Midway Avenue and Pearl Harbor Road
2. On Pacific Avenue between Ninth and Oak streets
3. On San Jose Avenue/Morton Street from San Antonio to Oak streets
4. On Santa Clara Avene between Paciic and Sixth streets
5. On Versailles Avene between Calhoun Street and Fernside Boulevard

In 1972, the city of Munich, Germany, turned its major street, Koenigstrasse, into what it called a “Fussgaengerzone,” a pedestrian zone. Almost 50 years later that major thoroughfare remains open only to pedestrians.

The city is hoping to hear from its residents in the last of four virtual open houses on the topic. This meeting is scheduled from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., next Monday, Aug. 30.

City staff will present recommendations for the future of the program to the Transportation Commission at its Wednesday, Sept. 22 meeting. Staff is then scheduled to report to the council in October.

Contact Dennis Evanosky at editor@alamedasun.com.