On September 22, city centres, town squares and village streets across Europe will close to traffic and turn into open spaces for sport, play and fun.
There are high hopes that this European Union-funded Open Streets Day (OSD) will become an annual tradition after this inaugural event. The initiative – developed by the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) - will see the establishment of flagship events across Europe, and also encourages communities and urban leaders to organise their own open street events. Allowing people to be physically active in open spaces that are usually the preserve of vehicle traffic, the day aims to foster a sense of community, encourage participation in sport and promote a shift to active modes of travel like cycling and walking.
Cycling is an ideal activity for Open Streets Day: visitors and residents can move about the urban space by bike, and in addition cycling promotion activities can easily be organised, for example:
- Child or adult cycle training or workshops
- Demonstration areas for different disciplines, such as BMX or trials
- Installation of ramps or pump tracks in the street
- Slow bike races
- Obstacle courses for participants of all ages.
The day also coincides with Car-Free Day, held annually on 22 September and supported under European Mobility Week. The European Week of Sport then kicks-off on 23 September, running through to 30 September. ISCA views its Open Streets Day project as a bridge between the two European weeks that both encourage Europeans to exercise through active transport.
ISCA Project Manager Laura-Maria Tiidla spoke of the value of the OSD initiative: “The Open Streets Day project aims to connect the active transport sector with the sport and health civil society branch to make the most out of public space and bring life and movement back to the urban setting.
“More than half of Europeans say that they exercise and play sports outdoors or on the way home, to work or school, and through the project we would like to draw attention to how we could design our cities to be more people-focused to ensure a more active, healthier and greener society.”
She said the project was inspired by the closed road Ciclovía concept from Latin America, and stressed how OSD hopes to encourage cities and local communities across Europe to open up their streets to cycling, walking, play, sports and cultural activities.
Inspired by Ciclovía
In December 1974, the very first Ciclovía closed street events were organised in the Colombian city of Bogotá - opening city centre streets to cyclists, walkers and residents to play. The Ciclovías have been organised for over 40 years, and today roughly two million people enjoy 120km of car free streets from 7am till 2pm every Sunday and during public holidays. Since its launch, the concept has spread across the region and the globe, inspiring countless other countries and regions to implement similar initiatives for the public.
For more information regarding Open Streets Day, visit www.openstreetsday.com. Everyone is welcome to organise their own Open Streets Day event in their local neighbourhood.
The International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) is a global platform open to organisations working within the field of sport for all, recreational sports and physical activity. Founded in 1995, ISCA cooperates with its 240 member organisations, international NGOs, and public and private sector stakeholders. It has 40 million individual members from 88 countries, which represent a diverse group of people active within youth, sport and cultural activities.