On September 21, 2007, people in 47 cities transformed parking spots into over 180 small parks during an annual global event called PARK(ing) Day. By thinking of metered parking spaces as short term, inexpensive leasing of the space, PARK(ing) Day takes those parking spots and turns them into public spaces. These passive places where cars would sit all day became active places of recreation, interaction and play.
PARK(ing) Day seeks to create awareness about the need for more open spaces in cities and challenge the way people think about how streets are used. Growing every year, more cities from more countries participated this year, including New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Seattle, Portland, Miami (United States), London (United Kingdom), Utrecht (the Netherlands), Barcelona, Valencia (Spain), Munich (Germany), Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte (Brazil), Toronto (Canada), Melbourne, Brisbane (Australia) and Vilnius (Lithuania).
Rio de Janeiro was just one of the cities that participated in PARK(ing) Day.
See also the video below
“The process of rethinking the ways streets are used is an important first step in making permanent changes in our cities to improve the quality of urban human habitat,” says John Bela, cofounder of Rebar, an arts collective that is spearheading the national process. One of the goals is to connect artists, designers, activists and governments together in order to start discussing ways to reclaim streets for people.
In New York City, girls from the Lower Eastside Girls Club of New York reclaimed parking spaces to create a mini park with trees and a plastic deer and made smoothies using a bicycle-powered blender. In Los Angeles, outdoor fitness centers were set up in parking spaces, complete with jump ropes and obstacle courses. San Francisco PARKs included produce stands and health clinics. In Louisville, Kentucky, an educational display on the urban heat-island effect was the focus of the PARK.
Children get to enjoy being outside in New York City.
Source: Transportation Alternatives
“If you live in an apartment like a lot of us do, there are no parks to take your kid too. Well, today, there is,” said a Flatbush resident in the Streetfilms video of PARK(ing) Day in New York City.
PARK(ing) Day NYC 2007 film
Lack of public space, the dominance of the car, and the lack of priority for other users of the street are common problems that cities all over the world are facing. Government officials are often pressured to do something about parking. But increasing off-street parking requirements and undervalued and free parking do not solve transportation problems, and instead make them worse.
In the United States, research has shown that about 30 percent of all cars in congested traffic were searching for parking. This adds to congestion, time wasted, air pollution, and high energy consumption. Donald Shoup, professor of urban planning, calculated that the cars in a 15-block neighborhood in Los Angeles, travel annually 950,000 miles, burn 47,000 gallons of fuel and emit 730 tons of carbon dioxide a year just looking for parking alone.
Illustrating Parking Reform with Dr. Shoup film
For more information, please check out these sites:
(also has a how-to manual and sample signs)
To see some videos of parking days around the world, click on the following links:
Video on PARK(ing) Day 2006 in San Francisco
Salt Lake City
Rio de Janeiro