Ciclovià in Chicago: A strategy for community development to improve public health

Maryann Mason*, Sarah B. Welch, Adam Becker, Daniel R. Block, Lucy Gomez, Adolfo Hernandez, Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Cicloviàs create temporary spaces for physical activity by closing off streets to motorized traffic for short periods of time-typically a day at a time. In Chicago, these health promotion events are called "Open Streets" and follow a route through five diverse communities. We report findings for evaluation of 2008-2009 Open Streets events. The evaluation creates a framework for examining Ciclovià outcomes and tracks attendance, participant characteristics, participant feedback, and community development outcomes. Evaluation data include attendance counts, participant surveys and semi-structured interviews with event organizers. Data analysis includes quantitative and qualitative methods. We use a capacity building conceptual model for interpreting community development outcomes. Contact with neighbors and exposure to new communities was a primary benefit of participation in Open Streets. These "exposures" contribute to the strengthening of social networks among Open Streets communities. Moreover, we found that planning for Open Streets has contributed to participating communities' and organizations' capacities to engage in further health promotion and community development work both across and within communities. We find that Open Street events have been successful in promoting inter-community organizational partnerships, community organizing and resident interaction-all contributors to increased community capacity for engaging in successful health promotion activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-239
Number of pages19
JournalCommunity Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Community development
  • Health promotion activities
  • Urban setting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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