Cheap, convenient, and abundant parking in urban centers is difficult to produce, particularly if the majority of the population relies on a private car to move around. Finding the right amount of parking for a district can bring tempers to a boiling-point, pitting commuters against residents to find the best spots, despite the fact that many U.S. cities have more than enough parking for all residents. PARK(ing) Day, an annual open-source global event, asks citizens, artists, and activists to reconsider space in urban centers dedicated largely to empty cars.
PARK(ing) Day creates an opportunity to -reevaluate the spatial potential of parking spots by encouraging individuals to “rent” out a metered parking space (by paying the maximum time allotted for the meter) and transform the spot into a temporary tiny park, allowing passersby to sit, talk, and socialize in public space that would otherwise be occupied by an idle vehicle. Rebar Group Inc., foundering activists of the PARK(ing) Day movement, offer a how-to manual to get involved and transform your own parking space.
A typical surface parking spot can cost between $5,000 and $10,000 to construct; a parking space in a garage can costs up to five times as much. The cost of parking impacts commercial and residential affordability, especially in cities which require a minimum amount of parking for new development, while parking itself reinforces car dependency. Allocating public space to an abundance of parking has real implications on the walkability of an urban center. There will always need to be space dedicated for cars, but PARK(ing) Day emphasizes the benefits of designed space for people, even one as small as a metered parking spot.
PARK(ing) Day occurs every year on the third Friday in September (9/20/2019). Check in with your local section of the Ohio Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects (OCASLA) to join PARK(ing) Day installations, or join OCASLA in Cleveland this year for their installation outside of Southern Tier Brewery. Don’t forget to follow #parkingday and #ASLAParkingDay on twitter and Instagram to see PARK(ing) Day installations across the country.