Street project intended to improve safety threatens Oakland’s First Friday events

Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — In the East Bay, a street project intended to improve safety is threatening Oakland’s popular First Friday events.

Oakland Department of Transportation installed bollards on Telegraph Avenue for safer bike lanes, but it’s the same location where First Fridays vendors set up.

The popular monthly block party has been cancelled during the pandemic, but organizers are concerned these safety measures will hurt businesses when the event returns.

“The DOT is telling us well you can just remove the bollards and then put them back and like that’s a huge undertake,” Shari Godinez, executive director of Koreatown Northgate CBD, said. “It’s not feasible for us to do that. we’re running on a shoestring budget already.”

The new bollards are part of a transportation improvement project that was initiated in 2016.

It runs on Telegraph from 20th street to 29th Street.

A city study found the area is a high-injury corridor.

“In our opinion this project failed,” Godinez said.

Godinez manges First Fridays.

She says vendors will have less space and businesses have already lost customers who like to pull up for a moment.

“In our organization’s opinion, it should be taken apart and changed into a buffered bike lane,” Godinez said. “That’s what we have been asking for years.”

In an email, a spokesperson with Oakland’s DOT says the city has participated in numerous community meetings leading up to and since the initial installation of the project in 2016.

Oakland city council voted to schedule more meetings with the community, hoping for a resolution.

Dates for the meetings have not yet been determined.

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