Enforcing Safe Pedestrian Access During Oakland’s Construction Boom

What do you when you’re walking and you see the sidewalk ahead is closed–do you go across the street or walk in the travel lane to get through? If you are like me (and many others), you probably walk in the street. Humans regularly choose convenience over safety when the built environment forces them to choose.

Recently, OakDOT issued guidance to require designing for pedestrian convenience (as well for bicyclists and bus facilities) when buildings are under construction. According to the new guidance:

  • “Pedestrian Detours” are not acceptable in Downtown Oakland, along major transit corridors, or along neighborhood commercial streets.  A sidewalk that is completely closed and requires crossing to the other side of the street is called a “pedestrian detour.” Detours are only allowed when there is a construction flagger present.
  • “Pedestrian Diversions” must be provided. A “Pedestrian Diversion” is  is a temporary walkway installed on the same side of the street as the obstruction allowing pedestrians to bypass the construction without having to cross the street.

So, how do project sponsors know they have to comply with the new requirements? When a construction sponsor files for an “Obstruction Permit” to block sidewalk or street space, they must submit a “Temporary Traffic Control Plan” (TTCP) that OakDOT staff review for compliance with the guidance before the permit is issued.

Oakland is entering a construction boom, so now is an important time to ensure construction project sponsors are aware of and complying with the new requirements. And now is also an important time to ensure that OakDOT has staffing resources to provide enough inspectors to enforce the new guidance and respond to complaints made through SeeClickFix or the Call Center.

We noticed some sidewalk detours around Oakland and did a little digging about how the new guidance was affecting them. Read more

Endorsement: Yes on Measure KK (Oakland Infrastructure Bond)

Any Oaklander knows that our streets are in terrible condition. With a paving backlog of almost $450 million, Oakland ranks 89th out of 106 bay area cities in paving quality. Oakland’s paving cycle is 85 years long – when most cities with roads in good repair have a paving cycle closer to 25 years. We need to shake up the funding status quo if we hope to have better streets in our lifetime, and that’s why Transport Oakland is supporting the $600 million Oakland Infrastructure Bond.
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Endorsement: Yes on C1 (AC Transit Parcel Tax)

AC Transit has been funding some of its operations and maintenance through a parcel tax since 2002, which provides $30 million per year to keep the buses running. Unlike state and federal funding sources which are unpredictable, highly restricted, and dwindling, this funding is locally controlled, meaning it gives AC Transit the stability and flexibility it needs to, among other things, prevent service cuts during lean revenue years for its 180,000 daily riders.

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Jeff Tumlin confirmed as OakDOT Interim Director!

Sustainable transportation visionary Jeff Tumlin confirmed as Oakland’s Interim Director of Transportation!

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“Starting a DOT is not just about mobility but is about equity and economic vitality and a more verdant environment” – Jeff Tumlin, Interim Director of OakDOT

Last night, Oakland City Council voted unanimously to confirm Jeff Tumlin, Principal at Nelson\Nygaard, to take the reins of OakDOT starting this July. In Jeff’s first months on the job, he will work on the new department’s Strategic Plan and organizational planning. Staff have already been working with support from Janette Sadik-Khan and her colleagues at Bloomberg Associates on the department’s first Strategic Plan. Jeff is looking forward to working with the high caliber staff that will be staffing the new DOT, noting that “one of its most powerful advantages is just how dedicated to Oakland every single staff person I’ve met is.”

Council has approved a contract with Nelson\Nygaard associates to “lend” Jeff to OakDOT for eight months. The arrangement will also give the new department access to the wide range of transportation practice areas of Nelson\Nygaard to provide as-needed support.

This is great follow through on the vision for a new vertically-integrated department that Mayor Schaaf unveiled last year. Congratulations, Jeff and Congratulations Oakland! Read Mayor Schaaf’s press release.