OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Oakland officials will throw a car-free party on Sunday to celebrate recent improvements at Lake Merritt to make it more scenic as well as more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists.

City officials say the free event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., will encourage residents and visitors to get out of their cars, explore the neighborhoods around the lake and engage in more than 40 different cultural activities, including live music, salsa dancing, free bike rentals, food trucks and boat rides.

Among the improvements at the lake, which is in the heart of downtown Oakland, are reconfiguring a 12-lane expressway near the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse into a six-lane, tree-lined boulevard, a new amphitheater and a four-acre park.

The event, which is called “Love Our Lake Day,” is being presented by the city of Oakland, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and the Measure DD Community Coalition.

The work to improve the Lake Merritt area is being funded in part by Measure DD, a $198 million bond measure that was approved by more than 80 percent of Oakland voters in November 2002.

Additional money is coming from the California Coastal Conservancy and federal highway funds.

Previous work to improve the area includes the renovation of the historic Lake Merritt Boathouse, the restoration of the East 18th Street Pier, the renovation of the Pergola, enhancements to Children’s Fairyland, the restoration of the Cleveland Cascade historic stairway and fountain and a variety of water quality improvements.

At 2 p.m. on the south end of the lake, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, Mayor Jean Quan, City Council President Patricia Kernighan and others will speak at a dedication ceremony for the new street and the other improvements.

About three miles of streets surrounding Lake Merritt will be closed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday so people can explore the improvements on foot or on bicycles.

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