San Jose’s “Open Streets” Event Gets People Biking and Walking

San Jose’s “open streets” event succeeds at getting people out to bike and walk, independent study finds

Nearly 75% of survey respondents got more than 60 minutes of physical activity during the event

Open streets initiatives close streets temporarily to vehicle traffic so that people can use the street for walking, biking, dancing, socializing and other non-motorized forms of activity. The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) just released results from an independent survey conducted at San Jose’s second annual open streets event, Viva CalleSJ. The results are reported in A Survey of Viva CalleSJ Participants – San José, California 2016. Researchers found that the event attracted a diverse set of participants and that most got at least an hour of physical activity during the event.

San Jose closed six miles of streets on Sept. 18, 2016, for Viva CalleSJ. An estimated 100,000 people took to the streets, nearly three times the number who attended the first Viva CalleSJ event in 2015. The event offered a wide range of activities, such as yoga, Zumba, soccer in the streets, music and dance performances, and live mural painting. There were also food trucks and other vendors.

The survey, a single-page, self-administered questionnaire available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese, was designed by MTI researchers to evaluate the event’s success and provide a comparison to a similar survey conducted in 2015. A total of 318 surveys were collected from a diverse set of participants. Some key findings include:

  • People learned about the event in a variety of ways including word of mouth (41%), social media (33%), and flyers/posters (20%);
  • The most popular way to access the event was by bicycle (51%), although nearly one-third came by motorized vehicle;
  • The most popular organized activity along the route was watching entertainment (65%);
  • Most respondents expected to spend money at the event, with 39% expecting to spend more than $20.

According to Dr. Asha Weinstein Agrawal, one of the report’s authors, “surveying at events such as Viva CalleSJ can be challenging because of the crowds and difficulty obtaining a truly random sample.” Planners for future events may want to consider alternative methods of surveying participants, such as online surveys.

Tweet this: MTI research shows that open streets events like #vivacallesj get people moving

Asha Weinstein Agrawal, PhD, and Hilary Nixon, PhD, are professors of urban and regional planning at San José State University.

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) conducts research, education, and information transfer programs regarding surface transportation policy and management issues, especially related to transit. Congress established MTI in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. MTI won national re-designation competitions in 2002, 2006 and 2012. The Institute is funded through the US Department of Transportation, the US Department of Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants. The internationally respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major surface transportation modes. MTI, the lead institute for the nine-university Mineta National Transit Research Consortium, is affiliated with San Jose (CA) State University’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business. Visit