Frequently Asked Questions

What are Healthiest Practice Open Streets programs?

Healthiest Practice Open Streets programs temporarily open selected streets to people by closing them to cars on a regular basis. By doing this the streets become a place where people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds can come out and improve their health.

By doing this the streets, become places where people can begin to change their physical activity habits and a city can change its culture of health.

Healthiest Practice Open Streets programs have four key elements:

1) An Iconic Route

The routes selected and opened to the people during a Healthiest Practice Open Streets program are strategically chosen to include iconic streets within the community; not just bridges, parkways, or trails. There is typically one main street that includes restaurants, cafés, shops and services, along with smaller intersecting streets open to people to connect to different social, economic, and ethnic areas of the city.

The route length is determined based on attracting and retaining the interest of walkers, runners and cyclists alike. We suggest a route no less than 3miles (5km) for smaller cities, and 6miles (10km) for mid to large cities, with the goal of expanding that route year after year to connect to as many people as possible.

It is also important that the route stay consistent so that local residents and vehicle traffic can anticipate the street opening each week/month/year.

2) Regular Frequency

Healthiest Practice Open Streets programs take place with predictable regularity so participants are able to plan their attendance and change their behaviour to be physically active on a regular basis. The best programs in the world, such as the program in Bogota, Colombia and Guadalajara, Mexico, take place every Sunday or the year.

3) Activity Hubs of Complementary Programming

Hubs of Complementary Programming are hubs of programmed activities in publicly accessible spaces along the route that focus on offering physical activity classes; such as dancing, yoga, aerobics, and hula-hooping; or other wellness-oriented activities like nutritional education, heart rate measurements, building community connections and healthy food options.

These Activity Hubs should be spaced out along the route, as they enhance the health focus, and encourage participants to move throughout the program.

4) Free and Accessible Participation

Healthiest Practice Open Streets programs are designed to be inclusive of all ages, abilities, and socio-economic circumstances.

All users, including walkers, runners, cyclists, rollers, strollers and those with mobility devices should feel welcome.

The programs are barrier-free, with no user fees to participate in the street opening, or any of the complementary programming.

 

What is the purpose of this website?

The intention of this website is to be a resource for anyone interested in Open Streets programs. We want you to learn about Healthiest Practice Open Streets programs – what they are and the benefits of adopting this kind of program. We want you to ask questions and share your experiences with open streets. And overall we want to help spread the word that Healthiest Practice Open Streets programs can help change the culture of health in our communities.

 

Why do we need Healthiest Practice Open Streets programs?

Physical inactivity and its related diseases are leading causes of death globally. Physical inactivity is preventable. We need to give people a reason to get up and get active. Healthiest Practice Open Streets programs encourage people to participate in regular physical activity in a fun, inclusive, and healthy setting. A community with a Healthiest Practice Open Streets program has the potential to change its culture of health.

 

Who is responsible for this website?

8 80 Cities manages this website and is supported by the knowledge and expertise of a network of open streets advocates and organizers.

Open Streets - Mail Room Video Q&A

We receive a lot of questions about Open Streets programs. If you are planning to host an Open Streets program you might also hear many of these questions. We developed these videos to help you respond to popular questions. We hope they are helpful to you.