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Micro parks and temporary bike lanes will dot the city for Park(ing) Day Friday


Cascade set up a protected bike lane on 2nd Ave last year.
Cascade set up a protected bike lane on 2nd Ave last year.

Park(ing) Day is not just for little parks anymore.

The day started in San Francisco in 2005 and quickly grew worldwide. In essence, people take over a parking space or two for one day and turn it into a tiny park sometimes while paying the meter. In many cities, it is not sanctioned and is maybe even illegal. It is a simple and bold statement about how valuable urban space is, and how much people can do in the space typically reserved for storing just one or two cars.

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But the City of Seattle has fully embraced the day and even takes an organizational role helping people set up their little parks. And while that might take a bit of the rebellious edge off the event, it has also allowed it to grow into a one-day experimental kitchen for urban space ideas.

Last year’s Park(ing) Day was a turning point for both parklets and protected bike lanes in Seattle. The city’s first modern parklet in front of Montana opened shortly before the daylong parking-strip party, which sort of broke through the Park(ing) Day fourth wall by extending the concept of reclaiming a piece of parking strip for a small public space into the other 364 days of the year.

Last year also broke new ground for the event with Cascade Bicycle Club setting up one block of temporary protected bike lane on 2nd Ave downtown. By lining the bike lane with small flower pots, the club was making the point that some extra separation would go a long way for biking in busy downtown. Less than a year later, the city finished construction on a bike lane there, which opened earlier this month.

Park(ing) Day 2014 shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it could be the largest one yet with at least 50 small parks planned according to the city’s official map.

And this year will feature two temporary bike lanes. Cascade is setting up another protected bike lane, this time on 9th Ave N in South Lake Union near Denny Park. Up in Ravenna, NE Seattle Greenways is setting up a bike and intersection redesign on 15th Ave NE and N Cowen Pl near Ravenna Park. There will also be little parks from several neighborhood greenway groups, Bike Works, the Urbanist blog, Pronto and more. Details from the city:

PARK(ing) Day happens once a year, on the third Friday in September, and is an opportunity for any Seattleite to temporarily turn parking spaces into public places. The event raises awareness about the importance of a walkable, livable, healthy city and helps people re-think how our streets can be used.

This year’s PARK(ing) Day will be Seattle’s biggest yet, with more than 50 pop-up parks for you to visit on Friday, September 19 between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.! You can play life-sized Jenga in Pioneer Square, make your own smoothie on a bike-operated blender in West Seattle, or hear a story at the “banned books” library in Belltown.

Here are some of my favorite parks from last year:

A putt-putt golf course made of car parts! (feat. Cathy Tuttle of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways)
A putt-putt golf course made of car parts! (feat. Cathy Tuttle of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways)

A tiny arboretum in South Lake Union
A tiny arboretum in South Lake Union

A little practice traffic garden at Westlake/Denny (feat. Gordon Padelford of SNG)
A little practice traffic garden at Westlake/Denny (feat. Gordon Padelford of SNG)

Pronto (then Puget Sound Bike Share) collects ideas for station locations
Pronto (then Puget Sound Bike Share) collects ideas for station locations

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7 responses to “Micro parks and temporary bike lanes will dot the city for Park(ing) Day Friday”

  1. Cheif

    It would be great to see what a couple of blocks would look like without gov’t subsidized private vehicle storage in place, as opposed to just a couple of spaces. It’s kind of funny that there is only one public parking day spot in West seattle (not sure if the one in the shopping center parking lot counts?) and the west seattle blog (with of course consistently car-centric readership) is full of comments about how it will destroy parking and there isn’t enough parking as it is and what kind of commies would come up with this idea in the first place, there isn’t enough space for our precious cars!

    1. Alkibkr

      Well, at least the pro comments on the West Seattle Blog outnumbered the anti comments 3 to 2. Progress, of sorts? And maybe the park will be instrumental in changing some hearts and minds. I’m not counting the editor comments or mine (as park organizer).

      There is a down side to staffing a park, you can’t visit all the others. Hopefully there will be great documentation this year.

  2. Andres Salomon

    Sweet, great post!

    Here’s what we’re planning for 15th Ave NE & Cowen Pl:


    We’ll be painting the bike lane stripes on Thurs night around 9pm, if anyone wants to help out. How often do you get to (legally) paint your own bike lanes?

  3. DAMN! Those are really sweet parks. Strangely, haven’t heard of too many spots in NYC this year.

    If you want to see some of the oldest documentation of PARK(ing) Day, check out some of these videos.

  4. jdg

    i created a route to hit them in order

    im sure you could knock 20miles off if you did them in clusters instead of in order

    1. Alkibkr

      Would love to do that (minus the extra 20 miles) if I weren’t playing in my own park!

  5. […] See our previous post for more info about the day. We’ll add photos throughout the day, so check back. And share your favorites in the comments below. […]

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