Activists take to the streets, in a mellow way, for PARK(ing) Day
Throughout the world, advocates of bicycles put parking spaces to imaginative uses during the 5-year-old grassroots event known as PARK(ing) Day.
In Burlington, Vermont, those who occupied downtown parking spaces for three hours last Friday — and fed the meters to avoid being ticketed — were described as "a decidedly mellow coalition" of activists. They served bicycle-powered fruit smoothies to passersby. They handed out homemade scones. And they distributed literature "extolling the virtues of reclaiming urban landscapes (even temporarily) from a culture that devotes entirely too much space to cars," the Burlington Free Press reported in an article available here.
Burlington's police department at first expressed concern over the legality and safety of PARK(ing) Day. But how much danger is there is turning a parking space into a temporary mini-park or into a spot where a Bicycle Coalition member set up a work stand and offered free repairs?
In Canada, the Montreal Dance Project sponsored a miniature park on Montreal's l'Avenue du Mont-Royal and invited the public to drop by for tea.
The Rebar Group, a San Francisco art and design studio, launched the event in 2005 by converting a parking space into a park-like place complete with a roll-in tree and bench and roll-down sod. Attesting to PARK(ing) Day's global appeal, Rebar's website indicated that this year's event attracted participation in places as distant as Tehran, Iran, and Hangzhou, China.
Among the proposals bandied about in Burlington as parking has entered civic consciousness were these:
• Converting underused, 15-minute car-parking spots into bike racks.
• Converting some car-sied spaces into smaller, individually metered spaces for motorcycles (a motorcycle may take up a quarter of the space of a car).
• Converting prime city-center spaces into smaller spaces reserved for smaller cars that are more fuel-efficient.