It all started three decade ago in Bogotá, Colombia. The community wanted an escape from the usual congestion and traffic and decided to close nearly 60 miles of roadways each week to cars and open the streets up for biking and other forms of human movement. These ‘Ciclovias‘ (“see-klo-vee-as”), Spanish for ‘bike ways‘, paved the way for what has now become a growing international movement to allow communities to temporarily transform our streets and use them as a public space for all sorts of exercise and social interaction, making communities stronger and healthier! Many major cities across North America have embraced the Open Streets movement with similar Ciclovia-style events. This is what inspired us.
In January, 2013, our committee of dedicated enthusiasts met to plan the first-ever Open Streets celebration in Santa Barbara County the following November. The group went on fact-finding field trips to other cities’ Open Streets events, met with public officials and prospective sponsors, attended a national Open Streets conference, wrote grants, built a growing team of supporters and worked through the myriad processes to make SB Open Streets ¡Calles Vivas! a reality (‘Calles Vivas‘ is Spanish for ‘Streets Alive‘). Santa Barbara County is now on the map with an annual community-building Open Streets initiative and in the spirit of Open Streets events across the nation that rotate locations regionally, we’re staging the next Open Streets in Carpinteria in Spring 2017! Unlike many other street-closure events where you stand on the sidelines and watch the event go by, at Open Streets, YOU ARE THE EVENT, and the streets are yours!
Check out this video that explains the Open Streets concept:
SB Open Streets is part of a growing global public health movement!
With now over 200 large-scale Open Streets initiatives worldwide–and some cities with weekly events–millions of people are actively reducing their carbon footprint, reducing global obesity and creating the connections and habits for a more sustainable world.
By closing the streets to traffic for a day and creating a new public space for individuals, families, friends and organizations to get out and move, try new fitness classes, walk, bike or bus to the event and connect in a community space, we create a better environment in which to build healthier and stronger communities with less reliance on motorized vehicles.
We’re projecting 10,000 or more SB Open Streets participants this year. That’s 10,000+ people using our streets as a public park, engaging in fitness activities, expressing their creativity…bringing our community together…and our ‘streets alive’ (¡Calles Vivas!).
We’re partnering with many of our activity & service providers that will be offering special free trials, discounted rates and other perks to SB Open Streets participants as a means to build both their business exposure and our local economy.
Open Streets initiatives are a testament that lots of small changes can lead to BIG worldwide changes!