AUSTIN, Texas -- All over the world, people are celebrating PARK(ing) Day within their communities. It's a time to take over a parking space and set up a temporary public space for a one-day installation.
- PARK(ing) Day emphasizes the desire for more public spaces and fewer parking spaces
- The day also puts the spotlight on the need for alternate, sustainable means of travel
- More permanent public spaces would require a collaborative effort
These "parklets" that popped up downtown and near the University of Texas create an area that generates social interaction, instead of simply being a place to park your car.
"It's only 8 feet by 20 feet but what if we eliminated most of our parking, what could that look like for the city?" said Molly Gasparre with the UT Austin chapter of American Society Landscape Architects.
Future landscape architects Gasparre and her friend Katharine Stowe used their parking space on The Drag to show what areas like Guadalupe Street are lacking.
"Hey, what if there were more trees along this street? What if there were more benches? This is kind of bringing a very small piece of what it could look like," Stowe said.
These temporary public spaces also highlight why alternate, more sustainable ways of travel are necessary in cities like Austin.
"When you start to accumulate and look at the space that we create in downtown for the car, it starts to overpower the space we create for the people downtown," Lacy Patterson with Austin Planning and Zoning said.
The Austin Planning Department's booth took up two parking spots and provided an area for socializing instead.
"So if everyone started to kind of look around and think about how the space is used around them, we can as a community come together and start to utilize our space together," Patterson said.
Making something like PARK(ing) Day a permanent solution would take effort from all angles.
"Cities coming together, city councils, organizations coming together to say, not necessarily 'we know what's best for society,' but 'here is another option that will be easier for someone to choose,'" Stowe said.