Safe Streets for Sacramento

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Dear Neighbors,

I’m writing to you regarding an important quality of life initiative for Sacramento residents – establishing safe, open, car-free residential streets to support our community’s health and well-being during quarantine.

As you’ve likely noticed, Sacramento loves sunshine and fresh air. On any given quarantine day, you can find dozens of families, kids, dog-walkers, bikes, and others flooding our sidewalks, bike paths, and other open spaces. Our sidewalks are literally overflowing with pedestrians pouring into the roadway, struggling to find six feet of social distance on a four foot sidewalk - increasing both the risk of infection and the risk of traffic incidents.

It’s time for the City of Sacramento to join other major US cities in expanding street access for pedestrians and cyclists during the COVID quarantine. In Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the “Oakland Slow Streets” initiative, opening 74 miles (a whopping ten percent!) of Oakland streets to pedestrians and cyclists during the quarantine. Minneapolis and Boston have announced similar closures.

How would it work? City planners identify promising streets – typically lower-traffic streets adjacent to main thoroughfares, many of which already have high pedestrian and cyclist usage. Once traffic engineers confirm that there are sufficient alternate routes, streets are closed to thru traffic. While local residents can still access their driveways (as can delivery drivers), thru traffic is re-routed, and voila! Pedestrians are no longer relegated to crowded, unsafe sidewalks.

In many neighborhoods, pedestrians – often accompanied by small kids and strollers – have already reclaimed ownership over certain streets, such as M St in East Sacramento. Little kids on bikes, families with strollers, friendly dogs, and bikes do their best to manage social distance within their limited allotment of the public right of way, with walkers and joggers overflowing into bike lanes and bikers overflowing into driving lanes. Without a formal policy, infrastructure changes, and appropriate signage, this informal approach becomes a public safety issue with each passing car – many of which fail to observe a safe passing distance of 6 feet, let alone a safe passing speed!

Are you interested in repopulating our empty streets with happy, safe, socially distant walkers and bikers? Do you support quarantining cars away from quiet pedestrian thoroughfares? I do. Please sign this petition to urge the City Council to take action to expand public spaces for pedestrians and cyclists throughout the city.

Oakland Initiative: https://www.oaklandca.gov/projects/oakland-slow-streets; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BV8qCpGWpcA

NYT Coverage of Similar Efforts: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/us/coronavirus-street-closures.html

Proposed Slow Streets for Sacramento: https://caltopo.com/m/TK03