EXCLUSIVE: Oakland PD warns illegal sideshow participants, speeding drivers not to abuse 'Slow Streets'

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- No one disputes it's a good idea, Oakland's "Slow Streets" program is designed to provide safe areas for residents to exercise and bike, while maintaining the six-foot social distancing requirement of the coronavirus shelter-in-place order.

But the Oakland Police Department warns "Slow Streets" could become unsafe, if they get caught up in illegal sideshow activity, like a large one that OPD shut down last weekend.

"Potentially the Slow Streets could become an attraction," said Oakland police spokesperson Johnna Watson. "These particular streets are smaller blocks, narrower streets not really conducive for illegal sideshow. However, we know illegal sideshow will often use side streets or smaller streets to navigate their way through the city."

But on the "Slow Street" that is Arthur St., just off 73rd Avenue, the more immediate danger may be from those who speed through the area it seems on a regular basis.

RELATED: ONLY ON ABC7NEWS.COM: Oakland sideshows called "monster," speed-related activity kills driver

Like a rollover we witnessed Thursday morning, just a block away from where we were standing, a speeding driver failed to make a turn, and flipped his Mercedes, nearly into someone's house.

"I just knew it was going to hit my grandson's car," said Lanette Fischer, who witnessed the accident. "They always drive fast, up and down 73rd and the side streets, like my street.

RELATED: Video shows hundreds defying stay-at-home order for big sideshow in Sacramento

Just before that accident back on Arthur Street, Oakland police had to warn this driver that he was moving too fast, on the "Slow Street."

Still, despite what she witnessed just moments earlier, Fischer told us she supports the idea of "Slow Streets."

"I hope it will work out, I really do," said Fischer.

RELATED: Coronavirus Impact: Oakland closing several streets to allow proper social distancing for joggers, cyclists

Oakland's Slow Streets program is less than a week old and modeled after what other cities around the country are doing to help residents deal with shelter at home orders.

OPD will do maximum and mandatory enforcement this weekend for sideshow activity and they will be paying particular attention to what happens around the current 4.5 miles of "Slow Streets" designated for pedestrians and cyclists.

In addition, the city has identified 11 additional miles of "Slow Streets" from which to select four or five additional miles for these "soft closures beginning this Friday, April 17.

City staff seeks community input about this proposal. Please look at the attached map and provide your feedback on this form or by contacting OAK311.

For additional program information and a larger copy of the map, click here or scroll down.

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