Open Streets

The Open Streets movement is spreading its vision for car-free fun from coast to coast, and Pittsburgh is playing a central role in the new urban phenomenon.

Pittsburgh’s homegrown take on the Open Streets philosophy got a shout-out in USA TODAY this week, along with a select list of national cities, including New York City, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and both Portlands.

Photo: Emily Walley, Bike Pittsburgh.
Photo: Emily Walley, Bike Pittsburgh.

In his article, Open Streets: 10 cities that put cars in park for a day, Larry Bleiberg provides an overview of the initiative that aims to actively engage people with public spaces in unique, communal and recreational ways (all sans automobiles):

“Some of the world’s largest cities are saying no to cars—at least for a few hours. Open Streets programs close miles of major thoroughfares, allowing bicyclists and pedestrians to wander urban areas in temporary car-free zones,” writes Bleiberg.

Mike Lydon of the advocacy group,, discusses the movement’s origins:

“It’s a chance for families and older adults to move freely. The movement became popular in the 1970s in Bogota, where it’s called Ciclovía, Spanish for ‘cycleway.’ The city now closes 70 miles of roads every Sunday and federal holidays, and the practice has spread around the world.”

Lydon goes on to share some of his favorite programs in cities across the country, with Pittsburgh landing a spot on the USA TODAY list. About Pittsburgh, Lydon says:

“This initiative started just a few years ago, and has expanded to three events. Each covers the same route, stretching from downtown through flatter parts of the city. They’ve had huge amounts of people come out for this. It’s a way for people to engage with each other, which you don’t see in a normal day with all the traffic. Activities range from Zumba classes to arts and crafts tables.”

Don’t miss Pittsburgh’s next Open Streets event on Sunday, June 26, and read all about the project in NEXTpittsburgh here.

Read the entire article and see the slide show in USA TODAY.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.