The Power of the Parklet

Published by Sarah on

DL Evans, Stack Rock Group and erstad ARCHITECTS partnered to create this 2019 parklet.

Parklets empower cities to reclaim our streets as places for people – not just people in cars. Parklets are when car parking is converted to a use other than for cars. Parklets can be permanent or temporary, as in the case of our recent PARK(ing) Day event when several businesses and organizations converted one or more parking spaces into a place where people could relax, play, visit and in general just enjoy a moment outside.

Check out the video from this year’s parklets in downtown Boise. Thanks to Idaho REALTORS® for the support to produce this video and coordinate PARK(ing) Day in Boise!

The power of the parklet is in recognizing that our streets are public space. Parklets help us experience this publicly owned land in other ways, provoking us to question – How do we want to use this public space? What is greatest value we as humans can derive from this public space? Is it simply to have a place to park our car? Or could some of our street space be more?

Why we support pop-up parklets

Streets once were places of gathering, commerce and other human encounters. Today we have relegated most of their purpose to conveying people in cars from one place to another. We are beginning to realize that we have lost something in this conversion.

As one of the parklet attendees said,

“It really is only the status quo that has made us decide that this is a space that belongs to cars.”

Karl Jilg illustrates how much public space we surrender to cars.

Parklets as smart growth

Smart growth is generally guided by ten principles. Looking at how these relate to PARK(ing) day and parklets, it’s clear that this reclaiming of space helps to foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place. Walking through downtown Boise, you could hear the sounds of Opera Idaho over the sounds of passing vehicles. You could smell the delightful aromas from the restaurants along 8th street.

The roots of PARK(ing) day encourage community and stakeholder collaboration with everyday citizens working with local businesses and private properties owners to take action and create gathering spaces and by asking the question, is this the best use of this space? Is this the most efficient infrastructure design?

By reclaiming space from cars, PARK(ing) day and parklets also helps encourage walking by creating comfortable and interesting places for people to walk.

AARP, American Heart Association and Idaho Walk Bike Alliance 2019 parklet on 8th street.

Ready to create your own parklet?

Parklets can happen any day of the year, not just on PARK(ing) day. If you are ready to create a parklet in your town or neighborhood, reach out! We are happy to help. And if you’ve already been involved in creating a parklet, send us a photo! We’d love to see and share.

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