About

MISSION: Santa Cruz Open Streets fosters individual and community health through creative use of public space.

Open Streets Santa Cruz County (OSSCC) organizes FREE, family-friendly community events which temporarily block car traffic and open the entire roadway for people to bike, walk and play in a safe and enjoyable environment.

Open Streets events also include free activities, music and performances, in addition to educational outreach booths hosted by local community organizations and sponsors.

OSSCC partners with a variety of public, non-profit and private entities, including: neighborhood and community groups; environmental, health and bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations; parks and recreation and health departments; as well as transportation agencies.

The long-term vision is to establish a sustained program of repeating events in diverse locations of Santa Cruz County.

 

Benefits of Open Streets

  • Promotes physical activity and health
  • Promotes a culture of bicycling and walking
  • Fosters community, quality of life and civic pride
  • Increases safety and access to the roadway for users of all ages, abilities and modes
  • Promotes enjoyment and care for the natural environment
  • Boosts the local economy through business promotion and eco-tourism
  • Inspires discussion about creative use of public space

 

History

OSSCC was launched in March 2012 by founder and director, Saskia Lucas. Inspired by the national and international movement of Open Streets events and by personal experiences of the joys and benefits of active recreation in traffic-free public spaces, she decided to begin a local initiative.

The first Open Streets event in Santa Cruz County took place in October 2012 on West Cliff Drive in the City of Santa Cruz. This inaugural event was an overwhelming success with over 9,000 people attending.Open Streets Santa Cruz (OSSC) returned in October 2013 and again attracted over 9,000 participants and enthusiastic support for continued events.

A new Open Streets Capitola event debuted with great success on May 4, 2014 on the Capitola Esplanade. The event drew 6,500 people and generated strong support for repeated events. Planning is also currently underway for a new Open Streets Watsonville to take place in 2015 (date TBD).

From inception the long-term vision has been to establish a sustained program of repeating Open Streets events in diverse locations of Santa Cruz County.

 

International Movement

Santa Cruz Open Streets is part of a growing movement of events in cities in the US and around the world that temporarily transform city streets into parks where people can come and enjoy active outdoor recreation in a safe and enjoyable car-free environment. In the US alone there are now over 100 cities with Open Streets events.

For more information, visit the national clearing house for Open Street events and resources at: http://openstreetsproject.org/

The following excerpt comes from the Open Streets Guide, Street Plans Collaborative and Alliance for Biking and Walking, Volume 1 – February 2012, www.openstreetsproject.org

“Many North American open streets initiatives draw inspiration from those held in Central and South America, where they are called “ciclo-vías.” The term, which translates to English as “bike path,” was coined in Bogotá, Colombia, a city that began experimenting with its model Ciclovía initiative in 1974…With approximately 120 km (70 miles) of streets open for non-motorized activity each Sunday and holiday, and weekly participation rates that can exceed one million, Bogotá is the de facto leader of this growing global movement.

However, before there was Ciclovía in Bogotá, there was “Seattle Bicycle Sundays,” a car-free initiative connecting several parks along a 3-mile stretch of Lake Washington Boulevard. Launched in 1965, Seattle’s on-going effort predates Bogotá’s Ciclovía by nearly a decade. Additionally, Seattle’s Bicycle Sunday promptly inspired similar initiatives in the parks and parkways of New York City (1966), San Francisco (1967), and Ottawa (1970), making open streets a decidedly North American phenomenon.

Despite sharing a few basic characteristics—temporary car-free streets, community involvement—open streets should not be con-fused with block parties or street fairs because the core objectives are fundamentally different. Indeed, while street fairs and block parties provide positive community benefits, they do not explicitly support physical activity or the broadening of transportation choices.”