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Open Streets: Trends and Opportunities
The Challenge: From 1974 forward, Open Streets have been experienced in 496 cities in 27 countries on all continents. Host cities range from large metropolises such as Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Toronto, to small towns with fewer than 10,000 residents. Understanding how to measure the success of Open Streets and the factors discouraging or enabling program sustainability is important.
Make an impact: Open Streets are ultimately a platform for change in any community – whether the goals are to improve community health, engagement, or advocate for more sustainable and human-scale cities.
What the findings are about: Based on recent expansion of Open Streets throughout the world, this brief summarizes trends in the Open Streets movement based on findings of Open Streets surveys in the United States and Latin America.
- The sheer number of Open Streets programs have increased throughout the world since the 1970’s following the prevailing model of Bogotá’s Ciclovía. The most significant growth in the movement has been seen in the last 16 years.
- Open Streets expansion in Latin American cities account for 93% of all regularly occurring programs and approximately 90% of those programs began after 2000.
- In the United States, as of January 2016, Open Streets have taken place in 135 different cities, though the majority have occurred with limited frequency.
- Open Streets route selection can affect traffic patterns, program participation, and general program success.
- A common characteristic of Open Streets programs in comparison with other street closure festivals is complementary activities.
- In the United States Open Streets to-date are implemented with limited frequency. 62% of U.S. programs with data available were found to occur only once per year.
- Consistent funding was noted as the greatest challenge to Open Streets programs in the U.S.
- Individual Open Streets programs should pursue in-depth evaluation of their programs measuring beyond simple participation counts and social media feedback.
This policy brief was developed by 8 80 Cities and Active Living Research with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Grant ID 72904).
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