Pitch your Idea/Build Support

In order to create a lasting Open Streets program for your city, it is in your best interest to have support from diverse stakeholders, and to begin building that support early in the process. Getting people on board with the concept of your program as early as possible will not only help get things rolling but it will help later in the process as well with getting the word out, and showing community support at town hall and city council meetings. Early supporters can also be helpful for turning critics into enthusiasts!

So, you need to pitch your idea!

To help pitch your idea, we suggest creating two key pieces to share with potential stakeholders:

  • A brief presentation
  • 1 page information sheet that can be distributed to stakeholders

Both of these should include the following information:

What is an Open Streets program? What will/could the Open Streets program look like in your city?

Most people are not familiar with Open Streets programs. In fact, many people make assumptions about what these programs will or should be like—that they will be like a sidewalk sale, a food festival, a parade—when in fact, Open Streets, especially health focused programs, are quite different. 

We suggest including a few compelling health statistics that help to build the case for your program. Statistics such as local physical inactivity rates, obesity prevalence, and diabetes rates serve as an important reminder that we need to do more (and do different things) to get people moving in our cities and towns.

Be specific about your proposed program – where could it happen, why should it be there, proposed dates and times.

Goals and Key Messages of the program

Pitching your idea requires having a strong internal understanding of your goals and key messages for the program. Having a clear, concise, and consistent message about your program is critical to gaining support within the community. Everyone on your team should all be able to sum up your message in a couple of sentences.

We suggest developing 3 or 4 key points that you consistently deliver. Your key points may be very simple. When developing your key messages, think from the target audience’s perspective.  Ask yourself the following questions: “So what?” “Who cares?” “What’s in it for me?”

Key messages should be concise and to the point, and backed up by evidence whenever possible. Watch our ‘About’ page for the latest research and resources to help make your case for Open Streets!

Lastly, highlight why stakeholders should be supportive of an Open Streets program.

Different stakeholders will be interested in an Open Streets program for different reasons. Try to define why this program will be great for your city to appeal to the greatest number of stakeholders.

Check out these resources to help make the case for Open Streets to different stakeholders.

But don’t forget about the basics…
  • Make sure people can access more information about your program (ie. a website or Facebook page).
  • Provide contact information so people can reach your team.
Then set up some meetings! Key stakeholders to engage include:
  • Transportation Department
  • Parks and Recreation Department
  • Health Department
  • Elected Officials
  • Business Improvement Districts/ Main Street Associations
  • Resident Associations
  • Walking and Cycling Advocacy Organizations
  • YMCA or similar service providers
  • Arts and Culture Groups
  • Sports Leagues
  • Charitable/Non profit organizations
  • Media
  • Schools (elementary, secondary, post-secondary)
  • Community Leaders
  • Faith-based Groups (*churches are especially important because they are often impacted by the Sunday morning road closure)

Who else can you think of to engage in your city?

When you pitch your Open Streets program be conscious that some stakeholders might be hesitant to express their support or may not fully understand the concept. Be open and responsive to their feedback. The more people feel included in your process and are educated about your program, the more likely it is that they will become champions… and these champions will be critical to sustaining your program.