The Living Streets Program envisions local streets as places where communities can walk, bike, gather, and connect. The program offers residents a set of options for activating neighborhood streets to create opportunities for safe community-building throughout the city. The Living Streets Program, outlined in Resolution No. 20211021-027, was adopted by Austin City Council on October 21, 2021.  

 

Living Street program heading

The Living Streets Program encompasses three types of resident-led street activations: 

Block Party icon

Neighborhood Block Parties

Neighborhood Block Parties are a fun, easy way to build community and get to know your neighbors. Block Parties are one-time closures of a single block to allow residents to hold small, locally-focused events.

More about Neighborhood Block Parties
The Neighborhood Block Party program is a pre-existing program managed by the Transportation and Public Works Department. The program allows residents to temporarily close a street for up to 24 hours and hold events to connect with their neighbors.
 
The City recently expanded the types of streets eligible for a Block Party permit (based on the direction in the City Council’s October 2021 Living Streets resolution), so that the program is accessible to a broader range of Austin residents. 
 
Neighborhood Block Party Diagram
Healthy Street Icon

Healthy Streets

Healthy Streets provide space for people to walk, bike, roll, exercise and build community within the public right-of-way by discouraging motor vehicle traffic along several local streets. 

More about Healthy Streets

Like other cities around the globe, Austin implemented an initial version of its Healthy Streets Program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as a way to provide more space for people to walk, bike, and exercise outdoors in a socially-distanced environment.

Today, Austin continues to see its local streets as places for more than just driving, and the Healthy Streets Program will continue to provide space for other modes of transportation at all times of day. 

Through the City’s revamped, resident-led version of the Healthy Streets Program, Austinites across the city will have the opportunity to apply for a Healthy Street spanning 3-4 blocks on a local street in their neighborhood. 

After selecting resident-led applications for implementation, City staff will install and maintain semi-permanent partial street closure treatments that discourage motor vehicle traffic and provide more space for walking, biking, and rolling. Healthy Streets will remain open to local motor vehicle traffic, including deliveries and emergency response.

Eligible Streets

To be eligible for the Healthy Streets Program, a street must:  

  • Be a local road (ASMP Class 1 road or lower) 
  • Be approximately 25-40 feet wide 
  • Be a residential street (90% or more residential). Streets with multifamily buildings will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If there is a school or place of worship on the block, they must approve the closure. 
  • Receive support from at least 60% of the households along the corridor 

To be eligible for the Healthy Streets program, streets must NOT

  • Connect directly to a major arterial road 
  • Affect a traffic signal 
  • Affect a transit route 

Healthy Streets Diagram

Play streets icon

Play Streets

Play Streets provide space for children and adults alike to gather and play in a local street by allowing residents to partially close a single block to motor vehicle traffic for a few hours per day several days per week.

More about Play Streets

Play Streets provide space for children and adults alike to gather and play in a local street by allowing residents to close a single block to non-local motor vehicle traffic for a few hours per day several days per week.  

Play Streets programs date back to the 1930s when London residents envisioned local streets as a place for play and community interaction. Since the pandemic, a growing number of cities have implemented programs that allow recurring street closures to support this goal. 

Austin’s new Play Streets Program aims to transform our local streets into places where families can meet and kids can play safely with minimal car traffic.  

The Play Streets Program allows residents to close a single block to most motor vehicle traffic up to 3 days a week for up to 12 hours a week. After applying and being selected for the program, residents will receive equipment like barricades and signs from the City. Designated Living Streets Ambassadors living on the block are responsible for implementing the Play Street and setting up approved street closure treatments repeatedly at the agreed-upon times. An adult monitor must be stationed at the closures at all times. This monitor can be an ambassador or another adult.

Play Streets will remain open to traffic from residents, deliveries, and emergency response. 

Eligible Streets 

To be eligible for the Play Streets Program, a block must: 

  • Be a local road (ASMP Class 1 road or lower) 
  • Be approximately 25-40 feet wide 
  • Be a residential street (90% or more residential). Streets with multifamily buildings will be considered on a case-by-case basis If there is a school or place of worship on the block, they must approve the closure.  
  • Receive support from at least 60% of the households along the block 

To be eligible for the Play Streets program, a block must NOT

  • Connect directly to a major arterial road 
  • Affect a traffic signal 
  • Affect a transit route 

Play Street Diagram

Apply for a Living Street in your neighborhood

Apply for a Neighborhood Block Party

Apply for a Healthy Street or Play Street 

The City is looking to implement several new Healthy Streets and Play Streets applied for by residents in early 2024.

The map below shows which streets are expected to meet the viability requirements for Healthy and Play Streets noted above. If you do not live on a viable street we still encourage you to fill out an expression of interest! We will work to find the closest viable location to you.

View a full-screen version of the map.

If your street is not shown as viable on the map above but you think it meets all the viability requirements, please email us at LivingStreets@AustinTexas.gov.

The application and implementation process involves five simple steps:

  1. Express your interest – The resident fills out an Expression of Interest online.
  2. Coordinate with City staff – Program staff will communicate with the resident to choose the best nearby street for an activation.
  3. Complete the application – The resident will collect signatures, find a sponsor if needed, and complete the application.
  4. Staff review – City staff will review all applications submitted and choose the applications that best fit program intentions and resources.
  5. Project installation – City staff will install or deliver the equipment for the activation

Living Street program timeline

 

Application Evaluation Criteria

City staff will prioritize play streets and healthy streets that meet the following goals:

  • Equity: the proposed play or healthy street is a socially vulnerable area based on the City’s Equity Analysis Zones 
  • Neighborhood support: a high percentage of residents living along the proposed play or healthy street support the activation
  • Need for multimodal infrastructure: the proposed healthy street has incomplete sidewalks
  • Need for recreational space: the proposed play or healthy street is located in an area with few parks
  • Neighborhood connections: the proposed play or healthy street helps connect to destinations such as parks, libraries, and cultural locations

Completed applications that are not selected for the first round of implementation in early 2024 will remain eligible and will be considered in subsequent rounds for up to one year.

Future Implementation

The City plans to reopen applications and implement new Play and Healthy Streets multiple times per year depending on available resources. The City also hopes to expand the budget and scope of the Living Streets program to support a greater number of Play Streets, Healthy Streets, and Neighborhood Block Parties in the future, as well as make improvements to the activations.

FAQ

How will getting to my home or business work? Can I have guests and take deliveries?

All local traffic for residents, including guests and deliveries will be maintained.  

How will emergency vehicles get to my home or business?

Emergency access will be maintained at all times. Emergency responders have been made aware of the closures. 

How will my trash and recycling be collected and my mail and packages delivered?

All normal street services such as trash, recycling, mail and deliveries will be maintained. 

Am I allowed to relocate the closure equipment if it’s in front of my house?    

No, unfortunately the location of the closure equipment is important to the safety of the Living Streets activation. The location of equipment has been approved by licensed engineers at the City, and is not to be moved from its place on the street. 

How were these streets selected?

Healthy Streets, Play Streets, and Neighborhood Block Parties have three main goals:

  • Provide a place for people of all ages to play and recreate in the public right of way.
  • Create stronger community ties between neighbors, foster residents’ sense of place within their neighborhood, and bring social interaction to the public right of way.
  • Help provide safe, non-car-focused mobility connections to important destinations so that people feel more comfortable walking, biking, and rolling to where they need to go.

To achieve these goals, residents can apply for the program and city staff will review the applications for their potential to provide social and recreational space within the public right of way. Living Streets activations work best on low volume, low speed, residential streets. These considerations, along with an equity analysis and the percentage of resident support for the activation, determine which streets are selected.

How will Living Streets activations be monitored and maintained?

Austin Transportation and Public Works will monitor the activations. Resident Living Streets Ambassadors will also assist with observations and maintenance. If you are interested in becoming a Living Street Ambassador or would like to report an issue, please email us at LivingStreets@AustinTexas.gov.

How long will a Living Street activation be in place?

The duration of a Living Street activation depends on the type of activation. Neighborhood block parties are one-time events that last 24 hours or less. Play Streets and Healthy Streets both last 3-6 months depending on the application. Play Streets are set up and taken down at predetermined times during the week but for no more than 3 days a week and no more than 12 hours a week in total. Healthy Streets are always set up, 24 hours a day, for the duration of the activation.

Can I still park on the street? 

Yes, you may park on the street in areas where on-street parking is permitted.

How can I get involved and help with Living Streets?

There are a variety of ways you can get involved to help make the Living Streets Program successful.

  • Call 3-1-1 to report damaged or missing traffic control devices, such as cones, barricades or signage.
  • Sign up to be a Living Streets Ambassador: Street Ambassadors will be Austin Transportation and Public Works’ eyes and ears on the street who help monitor barricade placement, report issues and help keep neighbors and the City informed. Email LivingStreets@AustinTexas.gov to let us know you’re interested. 
  • Give us your feedback on Living Streets by emailing LivingStreets@AustinTexas.gov
  • Spread the word! Tell your friends and neighbors about Living Streets. On social media, use the hashtag #LivingStreetsATX to share how you’re using Living Streets.

If you have feedback or questions on the Living Streets Program, please contact us at LivingStreets@AustinTexas.gov.

Related Initiatives