The information here is meant to serve as a guideline for Operational and Logistics issues surrounding your program. Volunteers, securing the route, purchases and delivering services like signage and volunteers kits, it is all here. Keep in mind that every city is different, so this is meant to be more of a guide than hard and fast rules.
Volunteers are the backbone of any Open Streets program. But where do you start? Where can you find volunteers? What tasks should each volunteer do? This tool will help you answer that question!
Using the descriptions below and the accompanying graphic, you can easily calculate the minimum number of volunteers you will need at your Open Streets program. We suggest creating a master volunteer map of where each volunteer should be.
Be sure to check with the body issuing your permits to confirm where you can use volunteers and where police or traffic officers are necessary.
Block Captains need to be very responsible and trusted volunteers. Ideally the volunteers in this position would be trusted community leaders who are pre-selected.
It is important that Roving Cyclists be familiar with the various responsibilities of the volunteers they offer breaks to.
Encourage Ambassadors to make the barricade “their own” with music, signs, decorations, costumes, etc.
This position requires concentration on the light cycle, therefore Intersection Monitor volunteers should be given regular breaks.
See our evaluation tool for ways to evaluate your Open Streets program.
The quantity of these volunteers depends on the length of your route, the required equipment to close your street, the process of setting up and taking down the program, and how complex your complementary activity hubs are logistically.
Your route might require extra support in specific areas i.e. asking people to slow down on a hill, or asking cyclists to dismount in a pedestrian area, coordinating complementary activities, etc. These positions will be specific to your program.
Ideally, it’s great to meet your volunteers before the first date of your Open Streets program. That way you have a better understanding of what positions individuals will be best suited for. Consider hosting a couple of volunteer training options where you can brief individuals about the program and they have the opportunity to ask questions about their positions.
After each volunteer receives the above information they should be briefed on the specifics of their volunteer role and responsibility. Use the information above to guide the education of volunteers in each role.
Once you know how many volunteers you will need for your program you’ll have to find that number of people to fill the positions! Where might you find them? Think about the kind of people you want to volunteer, what groups are already advocates of your Open Streets program, and who might have people willing to volunteer at your program or would be willing to spread the word about it?
The easiest method to register individuals as volunteers is to have them fill out an online form with their information. This will help facilitate communication and management.
Be sure that you have a system in place to respond when prospective volunteers fill out your online form. Likely, this will be an automatic reply email expressing your thanks for volunteering and that someone will be in touch soon or lists the dates for volunteer training sessions.
Sometimes it’s challenging to find enough volunteers to staff your Open Streets program but anything is possible! Check out these innovative ideas to fill volunteer positions. Do you have an innovative way to recruit volunteers? Share it with us!
Below is a ‘best-case scenario’ timeline. Keep in mind you may have much more time, or much less time, than described below due to a number of variables: You may not have your route solidified until a couple of months before; you may be holding your breath for funding until a few weeks before; or, you may not officially receive your street closure permit until just days before. In these cases, it’s normal to worry, but do not panic! The MOST important things are: