Redesign Robinson Street between Fifth Avenue and Allequippa Street to reduce and calm traffic, and to install intersection safety improvements, new mid-block pedestrian crossings, and street trees and stormwater management features.

  • Need to improve safety for all users, especially pedestrians, and reduce traffic volumes, which are especially high during peak hours when workers commute to medical institutions and during neighboring universities’ academic calendars. Cut-through traffic also impacts streets neighboring Robinson Street, such as Terrace Street, Allequippa St., Dunbar Way, and Dunseith St.
  • Need to reduce vehicle speeds and manage traffic illegally accessing the I-376 ramp from Robinson/Fifth Avenue and traffic not respecting stop signs
  • Desire to add new pedestrian crossings and implement high-visibility crosswalks, and to implement traffic calming measures, such as raised intersections or speed humps, and low-noise rumble strips.
  • Interest in adding a traffic signal light at the Fifth and Robinson intersection.
  • Safety and accessibility concerns voiced by and for vulnerable pedestrians and transit-dependent users, including seniors, people with mobility challenges, families with young children, and school children.
  • Concerns regarding sidewalk accessibility due to obstructions such as illegally parked cars, and concerns about deteriorating sidewalk conditions. There is a desire to improve the pedestrian experience and comfort using the sidewalks.
  • Concerns regarding stormwater and flooding, improving the streetscape with new street trees, and also maintaining landscaping and tree areas.
  • Resident concerns about the lack of enforcement, inconsistent enforcement, or biased enforcement related to traffic behavior and parking, including unauthorized parking at zones designated for people with disabilities.
  • Concerns about the limited availability of on-street parking and cars parking across sidewalks and driveways, which residents state is exacerbated during area institutions’ sporting events.
  • Few bicycle routes from the Fifth/Forbes Ave corridor into West Oakland and the Pitt and Carlow University campuses. There is interest in Oakland for filling key gaps in the bicycle network with new and safer bicycle routes.
  • An online and print survey in February 2022 indicated that reducing traffic was a top goal of community members related to the proposed mobility improvements. Three other goals all ranked close to second in priority: maintaining on-street parking, improving intersection safety, and slowing traffic. When asked to select priority street design elements, respondents especially favored high-visibility crosswalks, rumble strips, and raised intersections, followed by raised mid-block pedestrian crossings and curb bump-outs.
  • Some residents expressed interest in legalizing access at Robinson/Fifth Avenue to the I-376 on-ramp, and they indicated that a full closure of access may divert traffic to alternative neighborhood streets. Some residents and stakeholders have emphasized the challenges of traffic back-ups on Fifth Ave during peak hours and the impact these conditions have on vehicles in West Oakland accessing Fifth Ave, including via Robinson.
  • The above feedback was heard from multiple engagements during the planning process, such as online comments using EngagePGH, West Oakland walking tour with community members, discussions at West Oakland Neighborhood Council meetings, outdoor tabling at a local event, in-person conversations while staff canvassed the neighborhood distributing a survey in February 2022, and the February 2022 survey results (24 respondents).

The Robinson Street improvements will slow vehicular traffic throughout the corridor, provide midblock crossings, reduce cut-through traffic to I-376, increase bicycle connectivity between Pitt and the future Fifth Avenue shared use path, provide last mile connections to the future West Oakland BRT station, and provide new spaces for greening, street trees, and placemaking elements.

Proposed recommendations on Robinson Street extend from the intersection at Fifth Avenue to Allequippa Street. There are corridor wide recommendations and specific recommendations at the intersections. These recommendations are summarized below:

  • Corridor Wide
    • Implement horizontal and vertical traffic calming treatments to slow traffic.
    • At strategic locations, install rumble strips on the street that cause vehicles to vibrate, alerting drivers to slow down. Explore low-noise rumble strip options to minimize disturbances to adjacent residences.
    • Install a limited number of tree pit bump-outs at select locations on alternate sides of the street. Locate these strategically, with an eye for maximizing pedestrian safety and slowing traffic, while minimizing on-street parking reductions. Locate most of these tree and landscaping bump-outs next to pedestrian crossings.
    • Make Robinson a bicycle neighborway with shared lane markings (“sharrows”), indicating bicycles can share the road with cars in the existing travel lanes.
    • Consider additional traffic-calming signage as necessary on Robinson or at entry points to Robinson.
  • At Fifth Avenue (see diagram)
    • Removal of east and west “slip lanes” to/from Robinson Street at Fifth Avenue
    • High visibility crosswalks and bike crossings to connect to proposed shared-use path on the south side of Fifth Avenue
    • Curb extension to “T” up the intersection and provide space for green infrastructure, a mobility hub, and improved pedestrian connections to the future West Oakland BRT station
    • Explore potential for an “inspiring gateway” feature reflective of Oakland Plan development goals and incorporating unique architecture, open spaces, public art, and plantings at this important entry point to the neighborhood, which would present an image of what Oakland is and aspires to be.
    • Separated bike lanes on Robinson Street approaching the intersection to provide transitions between the future Fifth Avenue shared use path and Robinson Street neighborway
    • Raised median to restrict southbound turning vehicles turning into the inside lane on Fifth Avenue and thus preventing access to the I-376 ramp.
  • At or near Decre Way:
    • Raised pedestrian crossing with high visibility crosswalk
    • Curb extensions on one or both sides of Robinson Street surrounding the raised crosswalk for street trees and green infrastructure.
  • At Terrace Street (see diagram)
    • Raised intersection at Terrace Street with high visibility crosswalks
  • At Ellers Street (see diagram)
    • Raised pedestrian crossing north of Ellers Street with high visibility crosswalk
    • Curb extensions on east side of Robinson Street surrounding the raised crosswalk for street trees and green infrastructure.
  • At Allequippa Street (see diagram)
    • High visibility crosswalks
    • Curb extensions at all four corners with street trees and green infrastructure
    • Expanded community green space with mobility hub and placemaking elements at the northeast corner

These traffic calming treatments will help reduce vehicle speeds and make Robinson Street a safer and more comfortable street to walk and bike on. General benefits from these proposed recommendations are summarized below:

  • Physically preventing illegal access onto the I-376 onramp is anticipated to reduce the volume of daily cut-through traffic on Robinson Street, including at peak hours.
  • Tree pit bump-outs create a more comfortable pedestrian environment and pleasant streetscape. Alternating the side of the street the bump-outs are on will cause drivers to have to drive around the bump-outs, which will encourage lower speeds. On-street parking removal due to many of the bump-outs are less than what it may seem because parking is often already restricted at intersection corners to enhance visibility between vehicles and pedestrians. Tree pit bump-outs provide shade and stormwater management, helping reduce storm water flooding risks and in summers reduce the heat island effect (where temperatures often climb much more in areas with limited tree canopy). Consideration should be given to installing green infrastructure in ways that can accommodate the minimal curb height along portions of Robinson Street. To the extent street trees can feasibly be planted in the verge on parts of Robinson Street, they may also be effective means of precluding vehicles from parking on the sidewalk.
  • Raised crosswalks and raised intersections act as speed bumps and require drivers to go slower on the street. These treatments also create safer places for people to cross Robinson Street and visually signal to vehicles the street’s prioritization of pedestrian travel.
  • The raised crosswalk near Decre Way would provide a safe mid-block crossing for pedestrians on a long one-block stretch of Robinson Street. By being located near a future proposed playground on the east side of Robinson Street, it could provide a safer travel route for children.
  • Curb extensions at Fifth Avenue and Allequippa Street help reduce the crossing distance for people to walk across the intersection.

Design and planning considerations for implementation of improvements on Robinson Street include the following:

  • Designs will need to verify curb extensions do not impede vehicle turning movements or impact PAAC bus operations.
  • Designs will need to verify the curb reveal at Robinson/Terrace is sufficient to accommodate a raised crosswalk and that curb reveals at other locations on Robinson are sufficient to accommodate curb bump-outs. Where constraints exist, more significant measures should be considered to implement safety improvements.
  • The design at Fifth Avenue shall accommodate potential redevelopment on the south side of Fifth Avenue and a new fourth leg of the intersection.
  • Designs of green infrastructure shall carefully consider tree species type in order to minimize impacts to the future sidewalk condition, slippery conditions from leaf foliage in the fall, and maintenance needs.
  • The physical prohibition of the illegal right turn onto the I-376 onramp may lead to more vehicles using alternative routes to access Fifth Ave, such as Darragh Street, and these potential secondary impacts should be studied further to inform planning and implementation.
  • To help alleviate resident concerns regarding the limited availability of on-street parking and mitigate on-street parking reductions from proposed mobility improvements, consider the Oakland Plan’s program to “Manage on-street parking,” which aims to improve on-street parking availability for residents in residential areas of Oakland through a multi-pronged approach.
  • There are additional mobility proposals that community members have suggested, such as the conversion of Robinson Street to a one-way (uphill only) street between Terrace Street and Fifth Ave. Based on the February 2022 survey and community comments, there appears to be moderate interest but overall mixed opinions in the community on this specific suggestion.

Implementation should consider the following related to further engagements, timeline, and potential funding:

  • Additional engagement is warranted with adjacent property owners and with area residents regarding the improvements proposed at Robinson and Fifth Ave, especially the removal of the “slip lanes” and the addition of a new public plaza and gateway space. Efforts should also be taken to mitigate or minimize the loss of street parking associated with these intersection changes.
  • During further studies, design, and implementation of proposals, there should be close and consistent engagement with West Oakland residents, the West Oakland Neighborhood Council, Carlow University, and property owners and residents adjacent to proposed changes.
  • When local institutions engage in redevelopment, coordinate to minimize truck traffic impacts to Robinson Street.
  • Implementation of the proposed improvements on Robinson Street may be divided into multiple smaller projects. Implementation should first prioritize pedestrian safety and traffic calming measures.
  • Select traffic calming and pedestrian safety improvements could potentially be considered as part of DOMI’s annual traffic calming program and related funding source. Under this program, after sufficient study, traffic calming measures are usually designed and implemented in the duration of a single year. Other proposed project components, such as the Robinson and Fifth intersection redesign, would likely require a separate, dedicated funding source and may need to proceed after BRT construction, and its implementation could take several years.

When to start: 0-2 years

Duration: 4 years

Estimated costs: $$-$$$ (out of $$$$)

Project lead(s): DOMI

Project partner(s): OTMA, DCP, PWSA, PennDOT, The Corner Community Center, OPDC, PAAC

Potential funding source(s): City Capital Budget, grants, PWSA

Examples, illustrations, data