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Am J Health Promot. 2015 Sep-Oct;30(1):e50-8. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.131212-QUAL-633. Epub 2014 Aug 27.

Moving the Barricades to Physical Activity: A Qualitative Analysis of Open Streets Initiatives Across the United States.



CiclovĂ­a, or Open Streets initiatives, are events where streets are opened for physical activity and closed to motorized traffic. Although the initiatives are gaining popularity in the United States, little is known about planning and implementing them. The goals of this paper are to explore the development and implementation of Open Streets initiatives and make recommendations for increasing the capacity of organizers to enhance initiative success.


Phenomenology with qualitative analysis of structured interviews was used.


Study setting was urban and suburban communities in the United States.


Study participants were organizers of Open Streets initiatives in U.S. cities.


Using a list of 47 events held in 2011, 27 lead organizers were interviewed by telephone about planning, implementation, and lessons learned. The interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed. A phenomenologic approach was used, an initial coding tool was developed after reviewing a sample of transcripts, and constant comparative coding methodology was applied. Themes and subthemes were generated from codes.


The most common reasons for initiation were to highlight or improve health and transportation. Most initiatives aimed to reach the general population, but some targeted families, children, or specific neighborhoods. Getting people to understand the concept of Open Streets was an important challenge. Other challenges included lack of funding and personnel, and complex logistics.


These initiatives democratize public space for citizens while promoting physical activity, social connectedness, and other broad agendas. There are opportunities for the research community to contribute to the expanse and sustainability of Open Streets, particularly in evaluation and dissemination.


Built Environment; Ciclovias; Health focus: fitness/physical activity; Manuscript format: research; Open Streets; Outcome measure: other; Physical Activity; Prevention Research; Research purpose: descriptive; Setting: state/national; Strategy: policy; Study design: qualitative; Target population age: youth, adults, seniors; Target population circumstances: all education levels, all income levels, all U.S. locations, all races/ethnicities

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