Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 92, Issue 2, pp 230–241 | Cite as

The Impact of a Temporary Recurrent Street Closure on Physical Activity in New York City

  • Sarah A. Wolf
  • Victoria E. Grimshaw
  • Rachel Sacks
  • Thomas Maguire
  • Catherine Matera
  • Karen K. Lee


At least 70 US cities have now introduced ciclovías—large-scale street closures to promote physical activity—joining numerous other cities worldwide that have implemented ciclovías in efforts to improve population health. We assessed the impact of Summer Streets, a New York City program in which 6.9 contiguous miles of urban streets were closed to traffic and opened for walking, cycling, and group activities, such as dancing and yoga, on population physical activity levels. Screen line counts were used to estimate attendance, and a street intercept survey was conducted to assess demographic characteristics of participants, baseline adherence to physical activity recommendations, and type and duration of physical activity at Summer Streets. In addition, a traffic study was used to determine if there were vehicular traffic delays as a result of the program. About 50,000 people participated in Summer Streets; among participating New Yorkers, bicyclists averaged 6.7 miles, runners 4.3 miles, and walkers 3.6 miles, equivalent to 72–86 min of moderate physical activity. Among New Yorkers attending Summer Streets, 24 % reported that they did not routinely engage in moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity. These non-routine exercisers engaged in the equivalent of 26–68 min of moderate-intensity physical activity at Summer Streets. Summer Streets served as an enticement for New Yorkers, including those who did not ordinarily meet physical activity recommendations, to engage in physical activity. There were no significant vehicular traffic delays during the program.


Active design Ciclovía Active transportation Physical activity Built environment Street closure Open streets Summer streets 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah A. Wolf
    • 1
  • Victoria E. Grimshaw
    • 1
  • Rachel Sacks
    • 1
  • Thomas Maguire
    • 2
  • Catherine Matera
    • 2
  • Karen K. Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.New York City Department of Health and Mental HygieneQueensUSA
  2. 2.New York City Department of TransportationNew YorkUSA

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