These events create a safe public space in a car-free setting where communities can connect, families and friends can exercise and play, and businesses can engage the public.
Open Streets Chicago temporarily closes streets to vehicle traffic so that people may use them for walking, jogging, bicycling, dancing, skateboarding and more.
In the long term, Open Streets is expected to evolve into a recurring city program that will expand beyond downtown and connect more communities, attract more residents, and bring more recreational opportunities to an even larger population.
The Active Transportation Alliance has organized Open Streets Chicago the past two years. In 2011, Open Streets closed seven blocks of State Street in the Loop, and in 2012, the Loop route was expanded to connect State Street to the Lake Michigan shoreline, as well as adding a second event on 1.4 miles of Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park and Bucktown.
The event is modeled after similar car-free events held in cities around the world, including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles and Bogota, Colombia, which holds its iconic “Ciclovía” event every Sunday of the year. As of 2012, some 70 Open Streets initiatives are held regularly in North America.
Many North American open streets initiatives draw inspiration from those held in Central and South America. “Ciclovía,” which translates to English as “bike path,” was coined in Bogotá, Colombia, a city that began experimenting with its model Ciclovía initiative in 1974….With approximately 120 km (70 miles) of streets open for non-motorized activity each Sunday and holiday, and weekly participation rates that can exceed one million, Bogotá is the de facto leader of this growing global movement.
—From Open Streets Guide, published by the Alliance for Biking and Walking