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¡Viva! Streets: Opening Streets to People & Changing Denver’s Experience in the Public Realm

The joy we take in helping shape and build our community is a huge part of what unites our team at SideCar. We take great pride in being a part of Denver’s evolving story, so we were thrilled that the Downtown Denver Partnership selected our team to help them launch ¡Viva! Streets, a summer event series that closes major thoroughfares to cars and opens them to people. Part of the much-loved Latin and South American tradition of ciclovía, ¡Viva! Streets aims to provide our region with a brand-new way to experience the vibrance and diversity of our city neighborhoods while getting out and enjoying the Colorado outdoors.  

Over four Sundays this summer, major downtown roads will be closed to motorized vehicles and open for people the bike, walk, jog, roll or scoot. The hope is that this series helps signify a cultural shift in not only the way we view and utilize non-motorized transportation, but also improves how we connect and support downtown neighborhoods by bringing people into parts of the city they might not have explored otherwise. To immerse ourselves in this experience, the SideCar team recently traveled to Mexico City We rented bikes and explored the city’s ciclovía, where 55 kilometers of city roads are closed to cars and open to cyclists and pedestrians every Sunday.  

 

Launching a New Tradition in Denver  

¡Viva! Streets Denver launched on Sunday, May 14, ushering in a summer of car-free city streets for everyone to explore. Launching an event of this scale required a massive team effort. As the Downtown Denver Partnership’s communications and PR partner, SideCar developed the core messaging strategy and communications plan to successfully promote and pitch this unprecedented event in the Mile High City. We worked closely with the Partnership and other team members to align messaging and outreach tactics with ongoing business and community engagement, social media communications and media relations. 

As with many inaugural event launches, we adapted our tactics as the project evolved. From assisting with messaging and engagement with local businesses to securing exciting new activations through social media interactions, the SideCar team was all-in on making sure this event was a success.  

Through organic interactions and engagement on Instagram, the SideCar team organized and coordinated a Denver Skates activation featuring a Colombian quad-skate influencer, Caro Hernández. Hailing from Bogota, Hernández was enthusiastic about joining and supporting ¡Viva! Streets, citing the cultural significance of ciclovía in her city and the joy it brings to her community.

Social Media Strategy and Approach 

Social media became a crucial component of public outreach and education in the days leading up to the event. Our approach was two-pronged: frequently sharing event information (education) and actively engaging with online commentary (organic engagement). We wanted community members to understand the intention of the event and how they could best engage with activations along the route while building excitement for a new tradition for the city.  

Through meaningful, on-brand content creation and interactions focused on Instagram and Twitter, we were able to build a following without a paid campaign budget. What does that look like in reality? In the month leading up to the launch of ¡Viva! Streets, the Twitter channel earned a total of 64.5K impressions (averaging approximately 1.8K impressions per day), and our Instagram account experienced a +245% increase in total followers. 

Our team had the opportunity to meet Claudia López Hernández, the Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, while she attended the Biennial of the Americas here in Denver. Mayor López chatted with us about her excitement about introducing open streets to our city, and provided us with an incredible testimonial encouraging our community to come out and explore the city in a new way.

Media Relations Approach 

To raise broad awareness for this event, it was important to secure as many third-party megaphones for our message as possible. Media coverage was a key element of our communications strategy. This was especially important for an inaugural event like ¡Viva! Streets – unless people have experienced ciclovía in cities like Bogota, Mexico City or Los Angeles, the concept seems a little abstract and hard to grasp.  

To generate media engagement and build public excitement and awareness, the SideCar team led the planning and execution of a kick-off press conference that included spokespeople from key partners of the ¡Viva! Streets team, including the Downtown Denver Partnership, the City of Denver, Taste of Colorado, Regional Air Quality Council and Denver Regional Council of Governments. Coordinating with event sponsors and participants, we also generated media-friendly photo and multimedia opportunities to build engagement before the May 14 launch. 

From coordinating with the City on press conference permitting to drafting talking points and coordinating attendance by the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School and a local face-painting vendor, the SideCar team successfully executed a lively press conference that generated excellent visuals to help promote the event. 

We also worked closely with ¡Viva! Streets’ media sponsor, CBS Colorado, to ensure broadcast and print coverage was thorough in the weeks leading up to the launch. Showing people the power of car-free streets open to people through morning news segments and local web publications helped generate curiosity and excitement from the public. 

During the week of launch, the SideCar team secured 6 broadcast features and 12 articles across several local outlets.  

We worked closely with Ellen Forthofer, Andrew Iltis and the rest of the Partnership to develop media talking points that aligned with the overall event messaging we created. 

Want to Get Involved?

There are three more ¡Viva! Streets events this summer – giving you, your family and your friends plenty of time to dust off the bikes or skates and enjoy open, car-free streets for everyone! The next dates are: 

  • Sunday, June 4 
  • Sunday, July 9 
  • Sunday, August 6

There are also plenty of opportunities to volunteer and ensure ¡Viva! Streets can be enjoyed by everyone all summer long! To learn more about ¡Viva! Streets and stay up-to-date on event information, check out the website!

We’re so proud of the hard work of our team, the Downtown Denver Partnership, and the many partners working so hard to bring this incredible experience to Denver! After successfully helping the Partnership launch this series, we’re looking forward to getting out and enjoying open streets with our friends and families! Hope to see you out at the next three events!

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