Your route is selected, your dates are set, your funding is secured and your permits are submitted…now you just need to get the word out! We have seen Open Streets programs take anywhere from one month to two years to put together.  It can depend on many factors.  It is important to note, however, that more time is not always a good thing.  It can lead to unnecessary frills and expenses.

While there are many important factors involved in delivering a successful Open Streets program, it is important to remember these two rules:

  1. You need a safe and secure route
  2. You need people on it

Keeping these in mind throughout your planning process will help you prioritize your actions. Would it be nice to organize a giant flash-mob with your volunteers? Yes, that would be cool. Have you issued a press release yet or setup a webpage? No? Okay, get on that. Hold on the flash-mob.

To help you in rolling out your Open Streets program we have provided the following helpful tips related to marketing and promotion

4 - Idea Stage

Idea Stage

Identify supporters and challengers. Begin connecting with people, pitch your basic idea and getting a sense of the appetite for the program.

4 - Planning Stage

Planning Stage

Get the program on the radar of your local media, stakeholders and elected officials.

Must Do:

  • Develop a cohesive message with your team.

Nice To Do:

  • Develop a website, webpage or even a facebook page where you will provide basic information about your proposal/plan.
  • Consider setting up social media accounts to provide general information about Open Streets and your proposal/plan. Start getting people excited and supportive.
  • Consider issuing a press release regarding your plans or generate some earned media
4 - Implementation Stage

Implementation Stage

Your plan is going ahead. You can now make your program public. PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE. INFORM, INFORM, INFORM.

Must Do:

  • Make sure your team is on point with key messages.
  • Identify the media contacts on your team.
  • Develop promotional materials
  • Make sure your website/web-page/facebook page has basic, up-to-date information about the program.
  • Get on social media!
  • Plan your press releases.
  • Set up public meeting(s) to connect directly with people and answer questions.
  • Check with your local authorities about regulations regarding notices for residents and businesses affected by the road closure. Prepare your notices and plan to send them out a few weeks prior to the week of your event at a minimum. It’s easy to miss or forget a notice.
  • Organize a volunteer team to distribute print information and posters.
  • Ask businesses along the route to promote the program. Use public bulletin boards to display posters.

Nice To Do:

  • If you can, make a 30 second video that you can use to promote your program through social media, on your website, etc.
  • If you have the money, implement an ad campaign. Radio ads are often affordable, effective choices.


4 - Day of Open Streets

Day of Open Streets

Yes! Open Streets is finally here! Now get out there and let other people see your success.

Must Do:

  • Identify and prepare media contacts for interviews.
  • Identify a media gathering point and time. Combine this with something that will generate a positive story.
  • Have someone dedicated to connecting with people on social media, posting photos, re-tweeting etc.
  • Make sure you have someone recording the day. Identify or hire someone to take photos and videos.

Nice To Do:

  • Consider hosting a press conference—plan this carefully and be aware of the optics—during the early hours, the road may not be full (yet!).
  • Seek out and take advantage of attractive photo ops for media and supporters!
4 - Basic Promotional Materials

Basic Promotional Materials

Your traditional flyers and posters will be the workhorses of your promotional materials until your budget is large enough to afford radio or TV ads.  Here are some helpful tips and examples to review when creating your own:

Must Have

  1. Key Messages
  2. General Information One-pagers
  3. Business specific one-pager
  4. Notice to affected residents
  5. Poster
  6. Press-release

Nice To Have

  • Video
  • SWAG to hand out to volunteers, media, public etc.


In the early years of your program, marketing is key. You need to focus time and energy on getting the word out–but that doesn’t mean it has to break the bank. Some of the most effective marketing tools are low-cost, like social media, grassroots networking, earned media, and partnerships with radio stations or newspapers. Focus on getting the best bang for your buck. Keep in mind that if you are working towards a best practice Open Streets program–one that happens with predictable regularity–your marketing efforts and related costs will decrease as participants, residents, and businesses begin to see your program as part of their city and build it into their routine.

4 - Working With the Media

Working With the Media

The media can play a big role in promoting your program and can help you frame the conversation around what Open Streets are and why your city needs them.  Here the most common questions you’ll be asked and some tips to help you frame your responses.

What are Open Streets?

  • Open Streets are programs that temporarily open streets to people and close them to cars. People traffic replaces car traffic and the streets become ‘paved parks’, where people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds can come out and improve their health.

Why does your city need Open Streets?

  • Nearly XX% of people in our city are not physically active and this percentage is steadily increasing.
  • We need to encourage new ways for our citizens to get active.

Why close the streets if we have so many parks?

  • Many people do not live close enough to a park. Our existing parks, services, and programs are not enough. We need new strategies to encourage physical activity.
  • Open Streets is about the street. It’s about experiencing the street from a new vantage point, showing people that they can get around the city by foot or bike.
  • As Open Streets are on the street, they are also very accessible to people with mobility devises and challenges because the surface is flat and smooth.
  • We need to use our existing assets to their greatest potential. We can get so much more from our streets!

Why does it have to be a main road?

  • The most successful Open Streets are on iconic streets—that’s where people want to be.
  • We want to showcase our city!
  • There are alternative routes available for vehicles <list alternative routes>

Won’t this just make our already bad gridlock worse?

  • We recognize there is a gridlock problem and we know that to solve this we need to get more people out of their cars walking, biking, and using public transit. Open Streets have been a proven tool to encourage these sustainable modes of transportation.
  • We have designed the program to minimize traffic disruptions (.ie. Sunday morning, low traffic, soft closure).

What about church access? Little old ladies?

  • Explain transit options.
  • We have/will map out all the entrances along the route and will work with the <insert names of churches> to determine the best alternative.
  • We will be providing plenty of notice
  • We will make special considerations when necessary.

How can Open Streets have a positive impact on businesses if cars can’t get to them?

  • Los Angeles example: 57% increase in sales for stores that engaged participants in the program in any way.

Who is paying for it? How much does it cost?

  • List who is paying for it
  • Say how much it costs, or tell them that you are still working on the details of the budget
  • We are very grateful for their generous sponsorships and donations and for ensuring that we can run a professional and successful pilot program.

Do you want the city to pay for it?

  • There are many successful funding models for Open Streets programs.
  • We certainly hope that we can prove our success this year and grow the program in the future in collaboration with the city.
  • These programs have proven to have strong cost-benefit ratios. For every dollar invested in the San Francisco program, they saw a 2.3 dollars in health care savings (net savings of 4 millon per year).

Do you have support from the city? XX says he/she doesn’t support the program. How do you respond to that?

  • We have very positive support from many stakeholders affected by the Open Streets program and beyond.
  • We have been working closely with <list stakeholders> to ensure that we create a program that the City supports and can be proud of.

XX is opposed to the idea. What are your comments?

  • The Open Streets concept is supported around the world. In world class cities like New York and
  • L.A., the programs have been strongly supported by the Mayors and have been hugely popular and successful. We’re committed to creating a high-quality program and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with the City and other stakeholders on this project.

How many people are you expecting?

  • The most successful programs in the world draw hundreds of thousands of people. In Guadalajara, Mexico they consistently get more than 400,000 participants every single Sunday of the year. In Los Angeles, they are getting crowds larger than 150,000—we hope Open Streets <insert name of your city> can become a world class program like theirs’.
  • We expect <an approximate number> of people, weather dependent.
4 - Social Media Tips

Tips for Social Media

The use of social media is an integral part of developing an audience for your open streets program. Social media can…

  • Allow you to access new audiences (increase the exposure of your brand, encourage feedback and conversation)
  • Expand your network
  • Build momentum and excitement leading up to each date of your program
  • Demonstrate to decision makers and leaders that there is interest in your program
  • Help you interact with participants during your program
  • Help to collect photos and testimonials from your program dates
  • And so much more!

This section has introductions on how to build different social media platforms as well as tips on how to make the most of each of them. The Open Streets Project is happy to help with evaluating your use of social media, developing content, or teaching you how to use specific platforms or websites mentioned in this toolkit, please just ask!


  1. Choose and secure an Open Streets Twitter handle specific to your city. e.g. @OpenStreets <insert the name of your city>.
  2. To more easily manage conversations, set up a free Hootsuite or Tweetdeck account (follow online instructions). These platforms allow you to organize and keep track of tweets and followers and auto-post pre-scheduled content according to your calendar.
  3. Follow known supporters of your event, prominent members of your community, local businesses/services along festival route, business associations, and any other members of the community who might be interested in your Open Streets program.
  4. Use the free online program weekly to unfollow inactive accounts. With this program you can also view which accounts are not following you back. Select a handful of these each day and search their tweets. If possible, retweet or comment on one of their recent tweets. This will often result in a follow back.
  5. Aim to keep your following-to-follower ratio fairly even (following a disproportionate number of accounts can make your account appear ‘spammy’).
  6. Set up keyword streams within your Hootsuite account. This will allow you to monitor conversations of interest. e.g. Openstreets or #openstreets (tweets containing these words or hashtag will appear in each designated stream allowing you to share or jump into relevant conversations).
  7. Set up a list (within your Hootsuite account, as a stream and set to ‘private’) of key accounts/
  8. friends to follow, e.g. other Open Streets programs. This will make you aware of what other events are promoting and discussing. You may also want to use their content, links and images as inspiration when curating your content.


  1. Set up a Facebook page, ideally with the same/similar name as your Twitter handle.
  2. Create an attractive cover photo.
  3. You may want to use a free program called Woobox in order to create tabs linking your Facebook page to your other social media accounts (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram etc.).
  4. Follow other pages with similar or related content (e.g. other Open Streets pages).
  5. Like and comment on other pages once daily.
  6. Use the ‘Insights’ tab at the top of your Facebook homepage to find out more about your audience, e.g. when they most engaged (= best times for you to post).
  7. Facebook is very visual so include a large and engaging photo with each post. Use to crop, edit and add text to photos.
  8. As a rule of thumb one post per weekday is generally sufficient. You may also choose to post once on the weekend. Sunday mornings and evenings are usually a good time to post.
  9. Use Hootsuite ‘add a link’ bar to shrink long URLs before including them in your Facebook blurb. This way, your blurbs will be more visually appealing. Keep Facebook text short.

Instagram and Pinterest

These are valuable and popular social media platforms. However, you must first decide on where you intend to drive traffic. Do you have a dedicated webpage where the photos you pin will live? Do you have somebody on your team who will be out in the community taking photos on a regular basis? If not, these platforms might not necessarily be worth your effort at this time.


  • First and foremost, refrain from simply pumping out information about your Open Streets program. Followers will soon be turned off by your ‘look at me’ delivery. Instead, retweet related content, comment on other events or community member’s links, and chat casually (use humour when possible) with people in your homefeed.
  • Search hashtags for relevant content. For example, searching your city’s hashtag (e.g. #toronto) will give you a clue about what other things are happening around your city. Also search hashtags like #cycling, #green, #outdoorfestivals, #openstreets etc.
  • Search for influential and active followers (use the search tab within Hootsuite). Look at their recent tweets and then comment or retweet when applicable.
  • Try to keep the majority of your tweets short enough that they can be easily retweeted (without having to be shortened by the retweeter).
  • Use Google to locate Facebook pages or Twitter accounts to follow. For example search, ‘Joan’s Deli on Facebook’ or ‘Mikes Bikes on Twitter’ to find pages and handles to follow.
  • Use videos to show people what Open Streets look like in other cities
Go to next step