National Planning Achievement Silver Award for a Best Practice
Let’s Bike Oakland
An Equitable, Nonconformist Bike Plan
Expanding Mobility Options For Underserved Residents of Color
Despite active bike cultures in East and West Oakland, California, bicycle infrastructure had been criticized for displacing rather than connecting the long-time residents of these disinvested areas.
To bridge the gaps in transportation access, the City of Oakland's Department of Transportation (OakDOT) developed an Equity Framework to guide the creation of a new community bike plan — Let's Bike Oakland, which is the recipient of a 2020 National Planning Achievement Award for a Best Practice.
OakDOT partnered with five community-based organizations to lead community engagement and elevate voices that had historically been underrepresented in planning. After 60 mobile workshops and community events, and gathering input from thousands of residents in person and online, the team identified several issues residents wanted to see addressed in the plan:
- Fix It First. Many of Oakland's streets have potholes and declining infrastructure. Focusing on improving pavement quality in underserved areas on neighborhood streets would greatly increase bikeability.
- Support Existing Bike Cultures. Many people in Oakland already bike, and the existing people of color and youth bicycling cultures should be recognized and enhanced by the bike plan recommendations.
- Prioritize Youth. City investment around bicycling should prioritize and serve Oakland youth through programs and infrastructure that supports their needs.
- Enforcement Policy. Policing practices disproportionately target people of color riding bicycles, and this deters people in Oakland from bicycling.
- Transparent Process. People want to see how their input in the bike plan is shaping the program and network recommendations.
The plan responded to these needs through a series of infrastructure and program investment recommendations prioritized in East and West Oakland. OakDOT also committed itself to sustained and inclusive engagement moving forward as these recommendations are implemented.
After unanimous city council adoption, Let's Bike Oakland has inspired full-time bike mechanics and a bike-tool lending program at several public libraries. Additionally, OakDOT has maintained its partnerships with community organizations like the East Oakland Collective, now a paid partner on the East Oakland Mobility Action Plan aimed at building off the collaboration begun through Let's Bike Oakland.