Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

Making great communities happen

Improving road safety in Oakland with equity

By Vanessa Barrios and Carlos Mandeville, Regional Plan Association Lab, December 9, 2019.

“Ryan Russo, the Director of Oakland’s Department of Transportation (OakDOT) [recently] described OakDOT’s founding Strategic Plan [which] established four goals and four values that would drive the agency’s work:

  • Jobs and Housing,
  • Holistic Community Safety,
  • Vibrant Sustainable Infrastructure, and
  • Responsive Trustworthy Government.

“According to Russo, while OakDOT’s four core values of Equity, Safety, Sustainability, and Responsiveness drive the agency’s work, Equity precedes and informs the three others.

“To center equity within its work, the City of Oakland created a Department of Race and Equity [in 2019] to embed racial equity practices throughout city agencies, and developed a data-driven approach to equity that can help the agency hold itself accountable.”

Residents painted “ScraperBike Ground” on a 90th Avenue intersection. Source: OakDOT webinar, “Putting Equity into Action,” October 18, 2019.

“Using data, the agency identified problematic intersections where there were a high number of accidents then mobilized safety improvements to make crossing the street safer. Instead of immediately applying typical traffic calming methods, they connected with community members to better understand why those intersections were problematic. They learned through conversations with the community that Lake Merritt (the City’s central park area) was an important place to expand public space for activities like barbecuing, and accessibility through street redesign and bike lane development.”

“When we ride out, we ride down the middle of the-street.” Bike lane under construction on 90th Avenue, Fall 2019. Source: OakDOT webinar, “Putting Equity into Action,” October 18, 2019.

Read more about transit equity in Oakland from Healthy Regions Planning Exchange here. And check out the OakDOT webinar, “Putting Equity into Action,” October 18, 2019, here.