Park(ing) Day: The annual glimpse into livelier streets

Since the first pop-up parklet conversion in 2005, the third Friday in September has become an international holiday celebrating a vision for streets beyond the car default.

Today, five parklets appeared in the streets of North Arlington, while more than 30 can be found across the river in the District, with more still in Montgomery County and Alexandria.

In terms of transportation demand management, Park(ing) Day is about looking ahead into an environment where fewer people get around by driving. Limiting parking – and ideally dedicating that space towards other uses – is a key TDM lever to guide people toward more efficient modes. 

So what if residents, workers, and businesses discovered that they would rather their streets include benches, mini-libraries, green space, and other things that would bring life and activity to the area? What about massages or games?

 

Park(ing) Day showcases a move past our current default of “parking spot” for curbside use, suggesting instead “public space for public use.”

courthouse-parkingday

The Courthouse parklet. Photo by author.

In Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood, the parklet (above) is actually an ongoing pop-up park, which replaced a number of parking spaces at the block-wide Courthouse surface parking lot. The county hopes the small, shaded space will help passersby envision what the entire area will be like as a public park space, as depicted in the Courthouse Square plan. That plan even includes shared streets in which people, not cars, are given the priority and can walk within the street right-of-way – a definition that Arlington County is considering adding to its Transportation Master Plan.

And that’s perhaps Park(ing) Day’s greatest feature: with a few pieces of turf and a bench, it makes it easy to envision a better, less car-dedicated use of our communities.

Did you see any greater Park(ing) Day parklets in your area? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Below are a few of our favorites we’ve seen so far:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKa0r-pBxB_/

Above, D.C.’s 13 councilmembers all gave up their dedicated parking spaces for the day.

 

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