It’s every cyclists dream; pedaling down a car-free boulevard while the wind plays with your hair and the sun warms your shoulders. No drivers edging into your lane, no rumbling motors and no smog filling your lungs. Shall we pinch you now? Believe it or not, this dream is a reality that comes to life in Santa Barbara one day per year.
This movement, dubbed “Open Streets,” is one where cities collectively work together to shut down a major street(s) to cars and replace the bustling traffic with smiles, laughter and community connectivity. After months of planning, organizers and individuals enjoy what manifests when a decision is made to say “no” to fuel and “yes” to people.
So what might one witness or do during an Open Streets celebration? That’s the beauty of it all. The options are endless! You can bike, skip, skate, dance, hula-hoop, or salsa dance your way down the street. As long as no motorized vehicles are involved, one can celebrate Open Streets in whatever dimension fits their fancy. The day is for you to enjoy and revel in the magic and possibility of a car-free future.
Open Streets: The Vision
The intention of this movement is to transform traditional traffic ways into parks that provide space for people to enjoy and get to know their city in new ways, thus promoting public health, physical fitness and community. This movement also aims to:
- Encourage the community to creatively use public spaces to promote quality of life
- Promote environmental connection and stewardship by limiting fossil fuels
- Support and promote local businesses
- Provide an unforgettably FUN and unique experience to all who attend
- Imagine new ways for our communities future
The Origins of Car-Free Streets
The seeds of this celebration were planted three decades ago in Bogotá, Colombia. The perils of chronic congestion and pollution proved to be too much for citizens living in the capital so they united and mobilized. As a response, the community would close down 60 miles of highway once a week, transforming the roads into “Cicloavias” (bike-ways) which would serve as places people could intersect in different forms of social interaction, ranging from group exercises, biking, and dancing in the streets.
Since these “Ciclovias” took root, the car-free movement has been adopted in 200-plus large-scale cities worldwide, resulting in reduced carbon emissions, increased quality of individual, community and environmental health, and stronger, more resilient communities.
SB’s Very Own Open Streets
On Oct. 25th from 10 am – 4 pm, Santa Barbara will host its 2nd annual Open Streets Celebration! On this day, 2.2 miles of Cabrillo Boulevard will be temporarily closed to automobile traffic and transformed into a ‘paved park’ for a day of fitness, art, music, dance and cultural activities. On this day an expected 15,000 people will make their way to the Cabrillo Waterfront to participate. “They’re won’t just watch a performance going on,” Santa Barbara Open Streets coordinator Robin Elander said. “They will actively create the performance.”
This Year’s Highlights
This year will fall nothing short of spectacular. This year’s highlights (broken down by zone) include:
- Celebrate: Music, Food, Street Games and Chill Zone
- Jubilate: Performance, Food, Band, DJ and Art Zone
- Motivate: Sports Challenge Zone with Run Wild 5k!
- YMCA Participate: YMCA Sponsored Family Fun Zone
- Rejuvenate: Yoga, Food and Wellness Zone
- Activate: Dance, Zumba, Bootcamp and Play Zone
- Rock and Skate: Skate Board and Music Hub
- Kid-U-Cate: Fun and Healthy Kids Activity and Food Zone
On this day, the streets will come alive with adults and children engaging in fitness, art, music, dance and cultural activities. Routes feature local businesses and attractions, and strive to improve public health for people of all cultures, incomes, and physical abilities. Whether you run, walk, bike, jump, play, skate, or dance, everyone is invited to participate in this people-powered celebration.
Show your support for SB Open Streets by volunteering at sbopenstreets.org/volunteer or join the crowd-sourced fundraising campaign at igg.me/at/santa-barbara-open-streets-2014.
LoaTree is a proud sponsor of the 2nd Annual SB Open Streets!