PARK(ing) Day

International PARK(ing) Day is coming up on Friday, September 19, 2014. While many people are still learning what PARK(ing) Day is exactly, numerous communities worldwide look forward to the late summer event. For the last few years, hundreds of PARK(ing) spots have popped up in nearly 200 cities covering 35 countries.

SO WHAT IS PARK(ing) DAY? Started in San Francisco by Rebar in 2005, PARK(ing) Day is a creative and interactive urban project that aims to raise awareness for public space and how we view that space within the city. Essentially, PARK(ing) Day participants pick a metered, street parking space and re-envision it as a temporary mini-park.  The best part:  just about anyone can build a PARK(ing) spot for a day.  PARK(ing) Day is a community-driven initiative built off of the community’s imagination and interest in seeing  public space in a new light.

Transforming a parking space into a park can take many forms – PARK(ing) Day spots can be a simple mini green space with sod, a bench, and few trees; a design space with modular outdoor furniture; an exercise space; a play space; a small urban garden; and many other ideas. Some PARK(ing) Day spaces incorporate local businesses while others add an element of pedestrian and/or bike safety, such as a temporary crosswalk or separated bicycle lane.

PARK(ing) Day spots can be up for a few hours or all day, depending on the community, its regulations and policies and its natural flow of activity. Some cities require permits and may not accommodate purely pop-up spots with no previous arrangements while other cities are more flexible with the event, particularly if PARK(ing) Day has been done there and has gone well. Regardless of each city’s process, the day presents the opportunity for residents, business owners, leaders and officials to remember that our streets and sidewalks are public spaces and can be adapted to the community’s needs.

The ideal location for a PARK(ing) Day spot would be a metered, on-street parking space in an area that has fair to high pedestrian traffic and visibility. PARK(ing) Day installations typically make for great conversations and interactions with curious passersby that inquire about what is going on. People will stop into the park to interact, play or just have lunch. On average, a metered spot would cost a few dollars for a couple of hours of parking — imagine everything that can be done, and the benefit of creative re-imagination of public space, for that same price. This is precisely what PARK(ing) Day challenges us all to do!

PARK(ing) DAY IN SOUTH FLORIDA Over the last few years, PARK(ing) Day installations have occurred in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, but none have been recorded for Palm Beach County. ParkingDay.com, the event’s official site, allows participants to post locations and information for local PARK(ing) spots. The site also provides more background and history on the idea, plus offers a great DIY Networking tool to help organize potential PARK makers and goers.  If you’d like to organize your own spot, check out the FAQ section here.