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Oakland councilmember says program intended for social distancing has created dangerous road conditions

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — A program to help residents practice social distancing has created dangerous road conditions in one East Bay neighborhood, according to a city councilmember who says he is now preparing legal action to get the program removed.

“You see this guy? They’re all trying to turn here but they can’t. You see most people here are walking,” Oakland City councilmember Noel Gallo said. “We walk here and you see the car trying to come down but you can’t turn in. Then when people want to turn in they turn into the other cars.”

Gallo used his cellphone camera to show what he says are hazardous road conditions created in the neighborhood when Mayor Libby Schaaf announced that the intersection of East 16th Street and Fruitvale Avenue would be part of the city’s Slow Streets program — 74 miles of existing and proposed neighborhood bike routes to be closed to through traffic to help residents with social distancing during the covid-19 pandemic.

“By opening up our streets to bikes, joggers, pedestrians we are giving Oaklanders more room to spread out safely,” Mayor Schaaf said.

That is what Mayor Schaaf said last week when the program was launched. Councilmember Gallo explains why he has seen enough.

“First of all, they never consulted the community,” he said. “Whoever chose to close East 16th and Fruitvale, is the wrong street to even think about closing.”

“This is a residential street where people live, children live, families live. They don’t walk on the street. I wouldn’t walk on my street because we are not the safest drivers even with all the regulations we have,” Gallo said. “I turn around and I look at the gentleman crossing the sidewalk there. He is going to have a hard time but yet I am blocking off a street that has nothing to do with public safety. I think that was our concern in the neighborhood. out of courtesy at least consult with the neighbors in terms of what streets should be closed or at least they should have asked me what the right streets should have been.”

The councilmember says has raised his concerns with the city’s public works department. And his next move?

“We’re going to go ahead and try to remove this barricade legally,” he said.

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