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Oakland to restrict cars on 74 miles of streets for cyclists and pedestrians

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It’s all part of making social distancing easier—and safer—for everyone

Oakland will slow down a whopping 74 miles of streets to vehicular traffic starting this weekend to give pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists more room for social distancing.

It’s part of an emergency measure called “Oakland Slow Streets,” an effort to give residents more space to walk, run, and cycle safely through neighborhoods as shelter-in-place orders remain in effect.

“Because of the reduction in car traffic, we will be closing off a number of streets so that bicyclists and pedestrians can spread out and take in fresh air safely on Oakland streets, free of cars,” Oakland Mayor Libby said during a virtual press conference Thursday.

Note: This won’t be a total closure to cars, according to East Bay Times, but instead a way to “publicize roads to be especially alert of cyclists and pedestrians.” Local traffic and emergency vehicles will still be allowed on the roads.

“To clarify—roads are not being closed,” said Oakland Councilperson Rebecca Kaplan, who help lead the project. “The proposal is for slower streets, with limited motor vehicle traffic, and expanded space for pedestrians and people using wheelchairs and bicycles, to be able to get around with safe distancing.”

More details will, hopefully, be announced Friday. “Many questions remain unanswered about how the city will manage and enforce the closures,” notes the San Francisco Chronicle.

Over on the other side of the bay, San Francisco hasn’t shut down any streets in light of the shelter-in-place orders (the Market Street private car ban happened before the pandemic spread to California). With no luck, residents have urged the city to close Golden Gate Park to cars for the duration of the isolation orders.

San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar has requested the closure of Great Highway from Lincoln to Sloat to “create an ideal space for folks to exercise with social distancing.”