Park(ing) Day Successes Across the Nation

By Carolyn S on October 01, 2010

imageIt started in 2005 as a single patch of sod on a metered parking space in California.

That’s when the creative minds at Rebar, an art and design company in San Francisco, realized the absurdity that so much public space is gobbled up by the movement and storage of private vehicles. So they decided to put a single parking space to a different use, as a temporary park.

“Our original PARK stood for two hours — the term of the lease offered on the face of the parking meter,” the group explains on its website. “When the meter expired, we rolled up the sod, packed away the bench and the tree, and gave the block a good sweep, and left. A few weeks later, as a single iconic photo of the intervention (above) traveled across the web, Rebar began receiving requests to create the PARK(ing) project in other cities. Rather than replicate the same installation, we decided to promote it as an “open-source” project, and created a how-to manual to empower people to create their own parks without the active participation of Rebar. And thus ‘PARK(ing) Day’ was born.”

In just a few years, it’s taken off. Park(ing) Day has grown into a global event that challenges people to rethink the way roads are used and reinforces the need for broad-based changes to urban infrastructure. This year, on September 17th, plenty of Alliance organizations took part in the creative, temporary redesign of their communities’ streets.

In the Steel City, Bike Pittsburgh pimped out the pavement by creating an urban lounge, complete with wooden furniture and a fancy throw rug, where cyclists could kick back and hang out. BikePGH didn’t just have its own space, though. Some volunteers also offered a bike tour of the more than two dozens oases across the city. Check out pictures from the ride here.

Out west, in California, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition got comfortable next to the curb, too. “Couches, tables and chairs, potted plants, hammocks, and sod adorned the streets of San José as places where people normally dump their abandoned cars were converted to places for people to meet and mingle. Some were lured by SVBC’s offer of a $100 Sports Basement gift certificate, though most probably wanted to see the city made a bit more welcoming to humans for a couple of hours.” More from the SVBC blog here.

And up in the Northeast, Boston’s Livable Streets saw the Park(ing) Day tradition expand into double-digit participation: “Boston saw its first spot in 2008. In 2009 there were five spots in Boston and Cambridge, and this year it was expanded to 10 spots across Boston, Brookline and Cambridge. It was a huge success, and there’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm to expand to more spots next year.” Get the full story in Livable Streets’ newsletter.

How did you spend your Park(ing) Day?

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