Reclaim the Streets (RTS) is a group of people with a collective ideal of community ownership of public spaces. It has been characterised as a resistance movement to the corporate forces of globalisation, and, more significantly, as a form of opposition to the car as the dominant mode of transport.
Reclaim the Streets often stage non-violent direct action street reclaiming events such as the 'invasion' of a major road, highway or freeway to stage a party. While this may obstruct the regular users of these spaces such as car drivers and public bus riders, the philosophy of Reclaim the Streets is that it is vehicle traffic, not pedestrians who are causing the obstruction, and that by occupying the road they are in fact opening up public space. RTS events are usually spectacular and colourful, with dancing, traffic disruption and occasionally violence. The style of the parties in many places has been influenced by the rave scene in the UK.
Reclaim the Streets events have also been known to be followed by the subsequent arrival and confusion of police officers and drivers. Sometimes the parties produce enough noise to drown out the sound of the jackhammers which have been used to dig up sections of roads, and plant over them with sod.
Reclaim the Streets is also used to denote such types of political action, regardless of their actual relation to the RTS movement.
Reclaim the Streets began in the United Kingdom in the 1990s, and was taken up as a form of protest around the world. These "street parties" have been held in cities all over Europe, Australia, North America, and Africa.
Initial instances confounded authorities, but over the years it has become institutionalised in many places, where it occurs much like other forms of legal protest in that the march is arranged with authorities, the only difference being the form of the march itself, which involves music and dancing on roads, and involves a period in which a road is occupied without marching.