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Depending on a street’s usage and characteristics, temporary closures can take multiple forms, emphasizing active recreation and exercise, commercial activity or food festivals, or celebrating local art and culture.
When closed to traffic and supported by activities and programs, the street provides additional reasons for neighbors to socialize and for children to play, building stronger communities.
When occurring on a regular or longerterm basis, temporary street closures can offer an opportunity to promote larger public health goals that encourage people to be more physically active, while simultaneously supporting environmentfriendly goals that promote cleaner modes of transportation.1
Data collection can help document and communicate the benefits of temporary street closures, and ultimately help advocate for more permanent changes.
Temporary closures can produce different amounts and types of waste, requiring additional cleaning services.
Street Selection. When large areas are being closed to traffic, streets should be carefully considered within the larger network and clearly communicated in advance of the event. Select streets that benefit multiple neighborhoods. See: Pedestrian Networks.
Destinations. Smaller street closures of a few city blocks can add open space to adjacent destinations such as schools, transit stops, and museums. See: Designing Streets for Place.
Enforcement. While police enforcement may prove helpful, it is not always necessary or desirable. A temporary control device or barrier should be used to ensure that vehicles do not enter the space.
Signage. Where closures are weekly or daily, ensure that hours and days are clearly indicated on regulatory signage.
Programming. Closures are most successful when they are programmed with events and activities throughout the day. Programs may include performances, invited gatherings, food-related events, and other activities.2
Cycles. Allow cyclists to ride through temporary closures, yielding to pedestrians. Open Streets or Ciclovía events that follow longer routes should actively encourage cyclists by providing dedicated space and amenities.
Equipment and Amenities. Provide seating, tables, food stalls, recreational equipment, and lighting to help activate the space.
Loading. When streets are closed, arrangements should be made with local businesses for deliveries and unloading during morning and evening hours.
Branding. Consider local context and intended audiences and participants when branding and marketing these street projects.
Night Closures. Evening closures can allow events such as concerts, movie screenings, dining, and other activities. Additional lighting and police enforcement are recommended. Noise and other disruptions may be a consideration when locating these in residential neighborhoods.
1 A Journal of Urban Health study examined the costs and health benefits of four ciclovía events. The study found that benefits—in terms of economy and health—far outweigh the cost of the event. This is mostly because such events utilize existing infrastructure and are often the result of partnerships between public and private agencies.
Felipe Montes et al., “Do Health Benefits Outweigh the Costs of Mass Recreational Programs? An Economic Analysis of Four ciclovía Programs,” Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York City Academy of Medicine 89, No.11 (2011).
2 Many health care providers have sponsored open street events. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota sponsored Open Streets events in seven communities. For a compendium of case studies on open streets programs, see:
Street PLans, “The Open Streets Guide” (New York, NY: Street Plans and Alliance for Biking & Walking, 2012), accessed June 6, 2016, http://www.bikewalkalliance.org/torage/documents/reports/OpenStreetsGuide.pdf
Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.
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