Bike Lanes Pitted Against Fire Safety in Oakland

The Oakland Fire Department is opposing proposed changes to the city’s fire code, arguing that narrowing streets and adding protected bike lanes could hinder access for emergency vehicles. Jose Fermoso covers the story for The Oaklandside.

As Fermoso notes, “Currently, the city’s fire code requires streets to be a minimum of 26 feet wide where building heights are 30 feet or taller.” According to the Oakland Fire Department, the city’s older buildings necessitate wider streets in the event of a catastrophic collapse. But other cities, such as Portland and San Francisco, have changed their fire codes to reduce required street widths.

Kevin Dalley, of the Traffic Violence Rapid Response Team, says “it’s important to remember that removing the 26-foot rule from the code does not mean it would force the city to narrow every road. This change simply ‘would allow us to examine streets and buildings on a case-by-case basis,’ he said.” At a public meeting, Dalley said, “I’m asking the Oakland Fire Department to add to their mission and consider the safety of pedestrian cyclists and motorists when they review street design.”

The state standard for street width, and that of the National Fire Protection Association, is 20 feet. The city is amending other parts of the fire code to improve pedestrian safety, such as raising curb heights.

Read More

Leave a Comment