The city of Alameda will begin a “slow streets” pilot program on Thursday.
The program, which is similar to initiatives already in place in Oakland and San Francisco, calls for implementing “soft” closures of selected streets in Alameda to through traffic in order to make it easier to maintain social distancing of more than six feet during the coronavirus pandemic.
City officials said they expect the program to last for at least the duration of Alameda County’s shelter-in-place order.
They say that with park amenities, gyms and pools closed and trails packed with people, many Alameda residents are looking for other ways to safely exercise while maintaining the required social distancing.
Alameda officials said it can be difficult to maintain six feet or more of distance on many sidewalks, park paths and bike routes, so many people are choosing to walk in the street to maintain the required distance but wind up exposing themselves to swiftly-moving vehicle traffic.
The city says that by limiting traffic on selected streets, it will create more places for people to safely walk, run, bike, use scooters and rollerblade, in alignment with its “Vision Zero” effort to provide safer streets for everyone.
The selected streets will still be open for emergency vehicles and local traffic but the city encourages others to use alternate routes.
The initial areas where the slow streets program will be implemented are Pacific Avenue between Grand and Oak streets and Versailles Avenue between Central Avenue and Fernside Boulevard.
The slow streets measure will be in effect 24 hours a day.