Parking Day is a unique global event where architects, designers, and other locals transform metered parking spots within a city into public parks for just a day. The world celebrated Parking Day on the 17th of September this year.
Started as a standalone guerrilla art activism project by Rebar in San Francisco in 2005, it’s celebrated every third Friday of September. You can guess this day’s popularity just by the number of people who participate. In 2011 alone, 160 cities across 6 continents erected 975 temporary parks to celebrate this event.
More on the Philosophy and Impact of Parking Day
Distinguished urban planner Donald Shoup puts it succinctly, “We have expensive housing for people and free parking for cars. We have our priorities the wrong way around. We are killing our cities!”
What he is criticizing is the unrelenting demand for parking that is eating up the green cover and shared public spaces within cities. The whole point behind repurposing metered street parking for a day is to showcase the gargantuan free space encroached by cars daily.
By celebrating Parking Day, Rebar unintentionally got a critical dialogue started around the growing shortage of open urban spaces, quality of human habitat, and perils to the environment. So much so that it got the local government authorities to engage with the Parking Day narrative.
The planning department of San Francisco has initiated a pavement to parks program called “Parklets.” This initiative awards special permits to citizens and businesses to transform the city’s metered parking services into small parks open to all.
New York has also borrowed inspiration from this day by starting the “pop-up café” program. This scheme allows local cafes to pop up and provide sidewalk service, thus leaving cars with no need to park.
According to Rebar,” What has been really gratifying” is that PARK(ing) Day, which began as a guerrilla art project, has been adopted by cities and integrated into their official planning strategies. A relatively modest art intervention has changed the way cities conceive, organize and use public spaces.”
How Was Parking Day Celebrated This Year?
On the 17th of September 2021, the participants celebrated Parking Day by following these simple steps:
They chose a metered parking spot in a popular location so that more and more people could interact with it. As per usual, participants avoided the No-Stopping Zones, loading-unloading zones, or metered parking next to a fire hydrant.
After which, they built a make-shift park by using artificial green grass patches and rugs for groundcover. They also provide comfy seating inside their small temporary park and got creative planning a partial shade on top.
They put up signs on why they’re creating temporary parks in parking spaces to spread the word about this Day. Participants did all this without breaking the most important rule – paying the charge for reserving the parking spot!
Once the celebration was over, they cleaned up without leaving behind a single trace.
Over to You
This year’s Parking Day celebration was super exciting, even though the threat of the Coronavirus still looms. Not only did the participants came up with creative make-shift park ideas, but they were also well-prepared to talk to a bunch of curious onlookers, awaiting a few answers.
By the end of the day, they ended up talking to a bunch of curious bystanders and traffic law personnel, but most importantly, a horde of people, now willing to join the cause come the next Parking Day.