What is it? An open streets program, also called a ciclovia, is where streets are set aside from car traffic for a day and opened up to people for other uses. Without the presence of cars, the street can be used for various forms of exercise but also for community gatherings of all kinds. It can now host anything from a biking group or yoga class to a community concert and dog gathering place. From the one perspective, this is encouraging physical activity in a bid to increase public health. But it does so much more as it serves as a community gathering place open to all.
How has it been used? Charlottesville, VA hosted an open streets event in 2012 called Bike, Walk, Play JPA. A major street through town, Jefferson Park Avenue, was shut down to traffic for 3 hours to allow this vibrant community gathering to take place. There were live music performances, a collaborative mural creation and bike maintenance workshops. All people were welcome to come and have fun on what would normally be a busy street. Area organizations and businesses participated to make it a true community event. While all of this fun was happening, the community was able to see a dramatically different vision of that street while being encouraged to be physically active and have fun together. (Source: Bike, Walk, Play JPA)