What's a tactical urbanism response to showing better uses for parking spaces?

One of the best ways to demonstrate the opportunity cost of parking is to actually put something else in the space where a parking spot (or lot) used to be. This is a form of tactical urbanism—a low-budget, low-risk, DIY approach to transforming urban spaces without waiting for an official, city-led project.

In the case of transforming a single parking space, your imagination is the limit. Check out this adorable picture book, Spot's Parking Lot by Bridget Brown, for some ideas.

The most common tactical urbanist reuse of a parking space is to turn it into a parklet—a tiny park where people can hang out, and perhaps enjoy a food or beverage from an adjoining business.

  • Here is an interview with two Strong Towns supporters, John Simmerman and Amanda Popken, who did just such a demonstration project at our 2018 gathering in Plano, Texas. A few photos of the end result are included.
  • Strong Towns member Andrew Rodriguez, a city council member in Walnut, CA, turned his own municipal parking space into a parklet. Here's an article on the results.

The Better Block is an organization that stages temporary installments that reimagine a street, showing what it could be if space currently devoted to storing and moving cars were devoted to people walking and lingering instead.

  • Here's a write-up of a Better Block event in Akron, Ohio.
  • WikiBlock, created by the Better Block, is an open-source toolkit of designs for benches, chairs, planters, stages, bus stops, beer garden fences, and kiosks that can be downloaded for free.
  • Watch a video of Jason Roberts, the Better Block's founder, delivering the keynote at our 2017 Strong Towns Summit on Transportation.

One more piece of advice: don't just go out and do this on your own. Make it an event. Get local business owner(s) involved—perhaps the owner of a cafe wants a place for her customers to linger, and the parking spot in front of the door is the perfect solution! Reach out to local pedestrian advocacy groups if you haven't. Do something just big enough to make a splash and inspire someone else. This is how Strong Citizens create momentum for change.

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