The ciclovía, or open streets concept, is a community-level physical activity (PA) promotion strategy where streets are closed to motorized traffic and open for individuals to engage in PA. This paper presents an overview of such initiatives in the United States (US) to understand their potential in PA promotion, comparing event and city characteristics.
We searched ciclovía and open streets initiatives held in 2011 in the US using internet searches, publication databases, social media, and personal contacts. We extracted data on the each initiative’s frequency, route length, attendance, evaluation procedures, and sociodemographic characteristics of host cities.
Our search yielded 47 US cities with open streets in 2011. Cities were diverse in sociodemographic characteristics. Route lengths ranged from a few blocks to 51 miles and event frequency ranged from annual to monthly. Reporting number of participants for events was sporadic. Few events conducted formal evaluations.
The number of US cities hosting open streets is increasing. The sociodemographics of the host cities suggest a potential to increase physical activity in populations at risk for developing chronic diseases through these initiatives. However, further evaluation is required. Identifying successful promotion and evaluation tactics would boost the health promotion potential of these initiatives.