Pop quiz: Where was the first ciclovia?
I bet you said Bogotá. But, surprisingly, you’d be wrong.
Sure, the Colombian city is widely credited with popularizing the concept of ciclovias, which temporarily close streets to cars to liberate the roads for people. For several hours every Sunday, more than a million citizens in Bogotá take advantage of 70 miles of car-free streets to bike, walk, dance and participate in a variety of creative non-motorized activities.
But while South America has certainly set the standard for ciclovias — or open streets — around the globe, it wasn’t the birthplace. Starting as early as 1965, open streets initiatives in Seattle, New York City and San Francisco pre-dated Colombia by nearly a decade.
In fact, North American cities have played a significant role in the open streets movement and, in the past six years alone, the number of initiatives has grown from 11 in 2005 to more than 70 in 2011.
To keep those numbers ticking up and to make current initiatives even better, the Alliance for Biking & Walking and the Street Plans Collaborative just released a new resource that highlights examples and compiles best practices from 67 initiatives from across the continent.
The Open Streets Guide, released last week, features an introduction to open streets, a summary of the initiatives in North America and case studies of 67 initiatives from across the continent. The guide breaks down U.S. and Canadian initiatives into seven model types, based on how they’re funded and who’s in charge, and zeroes in on best practices taken from initiatives in North and South America. It also includes some fascinating statistics, like average route length (3.95 miles), population served (28 percent of open streets occur in cities of less than 100,000 people) and funding (52 percent of open streets initiatives are paid for by a public-private partnership).