What are Open Streets?
Open Streets are events that temporarily close streets to automobile traffic so people can use them for walking, biking, playing, and getting to know their neighbors. These events create a safe and fun space to practice active transportation, explore neighborhoods, and build healthy communities. Originating from Ciclovía in Bogotá, Columbia and Seattle Bicycle Sundays in Seattle, Washington, Open Streets initiatives have spread to over 100 US cities.
There are many Open Streets initiatives in the Bay Area including Car-Free Sundays in Golden Gate Park, Oaklavia, San Francisco Sunday Streets, and Streets Alive! Parks Alive! San Mateo County.
Interested in organizing an Open Streets event in your community?
Open Street events are most successful when planned with the support of many different community stakeholders from neighbors, local government, schools, advocacy groups, and businesses. The support of businesses and residents in the area you are planning your route is particularly essential for a good outcome. By forming community partnerships you can create a positive and welcoming experience for everyone.
The Open Streets Projectwebsite is a great place to get started planning and includes a helpful FAQ sheet and great videos that describe Open Streets events. These events are different in each community, but examples of events across America in the Open Streets Guide can be used to help you find a model that fits your community.
Finally, evaluation is an important component of Open Streets events to consider. By evaluating your event, you can support future events with data and anecdotes. Evaluation can also provide evidence that your event is meeting community goals such as encouraging active transportation, economic development and healthy living. Open Streets Initiatives: Measuring Success Toolkit, developed by Active Living Research, provides creative and fun ideas to gain data from participants. For example, you can find out where participants live by asking them to place a sticker on a map. Interactive elements like this can increase the amount of data you receive. For more information on evaluation, the Open Streets Project website lists Initiative Annual Reportsfrom different cities around the US.