Background: The Ciclovía-Recreativa is a free, community-based program in which streets are closed temporarily to motorized transport, allowing access to walkers, runners, rollerbladers, and cyclists only. We assessed existing information about the Ciclovía as a public health strategy and proposed next steps for research and public health practice.
Methods: We conducted a systematic search of peer-reviewed and other literature, which was complemented by expert interviews and consultation.
Results: We reviewed 38 Ciclovías from 11 countries. Most programs (84.2%) take place in urban settings. The programs range from 18-64 events per year (54 + or - 24.6; 52 [mean + or - standard deviation; median]) with events lasting from 2-12 hours (6 + or - 2.4; 6). The length of the streets ranges from 1-121 km (14.6 + or - 22.1; 7), and the estimated number of participants per event ranges from 60-1,000,000 persons (61,203 + or - 186,668; 3810). Seventy-one percent of the programs include physical activity classes and in 89% of the Ciclovías, the streets are connected with parks.
Conclusions: Ciclovías have potential for positive public health outcomes, but evidence on their effectiveness is limited. The different stages of new and established programs offer a unique opportunity for transnational studies aimed at assessing their public health impact.