Open Streets are community-based programs that promote the use of public space for physical activity (PA), recreation and socialization by closing streets temporarily to motorized vehicles, allowing access to pedestrians. The city of Atlanta hosted its first Open Streets event, Atlanta Streets Alive (ASA), in May 2010. An evaluation of the first 5 ASA events from May 2010 to May 2012 was conducted. The purpose was to learn about the characteristics of ASA participants, the influence of the event on their PA, and perceptions of safety and neighborhood social capital.
ASA’s evaluation had 2 components: participant counts and a participant survey. Characteristics of participation were compared among the 3 different events in which surveys were conducted using the Pearson χ2 test and F test as appropriate.
The estimated participation at ASA increased from nearly 3,500 (ASA 1 to 4) to 12,520 (ASA 5). The number of events increased to 3 per year for a total of 10 events until 2014. Overall, 19.4% of participants met the weekly PA recommendation during 1 event.
The expanding diversity of routes, participants, and sponsorships highlights the potential promise such programming offers in terms of establishing an urban culture of health.