If you were about the City Centre today you might have seen a little street reclaiming going on around the place. In a couple of places little groups of people were sitting out in the streets enjoying the sunshine, a privilege that is normally reserved for empty cars.
That”s because it’s PARK(ing) Day, an international day to bring awareness to public open space and the role of roadsides in our cities:
Providing temporary public open space . . . one parking spot at at time.
PARK(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.
The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!
Here are a couple of snaps from my local steet liberation, Upper Queen St. The funny thing is how swamped that group of folks were amongst the enormity of of that roadway. The sad fact is Upper Queen St used to be a very lively functional street with shopping and flats up both sides, but the road frenzy of the mid 20th century saw half the buildings demolished and the street doubled in width to ‘cope’ with the traffic. In these photo’s taken around 9am, you have to wonder quite where all the traffic is! In that second photo all I can see is six empty lanes and a half dozen empty parked cars. So much for progress!
And here is one from downtown, the great thing here is the map of Auckland laid out where people can stick on suggestions of what they’d like to see in the city. Most of it was quite predictable, less traffic, less parking, more public transport, more cycling, more public open space. The people are thirsty for great urban environments and sick of a car choked city! Mad props to the Unitec students who put that one together.
So great stuff, but why does it only have to be once a year? Can’t we turn some of our streets into parks and squares every day? Well with any luck some of the wonderful concepts outlined in the City Centre Masterplan can go from dream to reality, and we’ll see a pedestrian-tram mall in Queen St, a green linear park along Victoria St, and de-car-ification of the likes of High St and Emily Place.