Oakland First City To Copy S.F. 'Sunday Streets' -- NOT Berkeley

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Let's go Oakland!
For the first time in the history of time -- that we can recall -- Oakland has kicked the green-flecked ass of Berkeley in being first East-Bay city to adopt an environmentally friendly policy. Or so claims a consultant hired to put on a June 27 Oak-town edition of Sunday Streets, the San Francisco auto-free street-fest whose latest edition Sunday went off fabulously on the Embarcadero.

"Berkeley has always been seen as the greenest of the greens. But actually, Oakland is up there, too. And we're doing a lot of stuff where it can also be seen that people can live a green lifestyle," said Karen Hester, an event planner hired by the advocacy group Walk-Oakland Bike-Oakland to put on Oaklavia, a Sunday Streets type event where 12 blocks of Broadway and three blocks of Telegraph will be auto-free for four hours.

Berkeley, of course, is the city with a network of bicycle boulevards -- yes, the city is criss-crossed with entire streets devoted to bicycle travel -- bike lanes and bike racks everywhere else, and BART's first attended bicycle parking facility downtown. This vastly outpaces meager bicycle amenities in cities such as Oakland or San Francisco, despite the fact bicycle transportation lobbyists within Berkeley have a budget one-tenth that of San Francisco.

"I think it's important for Oakland to be first in something rather than the worst homicide rate, the worst public schools," Hester gloated.

Worse yet for Berkeley, Hester said, cities such as Redding and Stockton now have activists inquiring about how they might put on Sunday Streets events of their own -- perhaps before Berkeley.

Eager to knock Berkeley down a few more pegs, we asked Hester if Oakland had ever been first at anything else that was good.

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Now Oakland is in the vanguard...

"We did one-stream recycling, where they put the single bins on the streets," Hester said.

Huh?

"Berkeley was first in California, and some think in the whole country to implement curbside recycling. What Oakland did before Berkeley was just the single bins. We were able to roll that out before Berkeley," Hester explained. "For a city of limited recourses, that's significant."

Well. Maybe.

We can tell you that, if Broadway through downtown Oakland June 27 is anything like San Francisco's Embarcadero was yesterday, the city will experience a sort of magical quiet that occurs when a downtown boulevard usually filled with automobiles is filled only with motorless devices and people.

Hester says she's raised $15,000 so far, and needs another $10,000 -- mostly to pay police patrolling this summer's Oakland event.

The event is "important because residents need to have an opportunity to be on the streets where roadways are becoming a public space for more than just cars. This is a community building experience that's really a lot of family fun," she said . "Our goal is to really start this up. We hope to do four to six events in the following year. It's an international movement, and we're excited that in the East Bay Oakland will be the one with a Sunday Streets event. It's not going to be Berkeley. It's going to be Oakland that's going to be the first."

By press time the Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coaltion's Rebecca Stievater hadn't been able to return a call to explain how this could have happened.
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