Last Friday, numerous locals, small businesses, City Departments and non-profit organisations transformed metered parking spaces into public parks. Held annually on the 3rd weekend of September, the global phenomenon PARK(ing) Day raises an interesting debate about the allocation of our increasingly limited public space. It proposes innovative ways in which to improve and unify highly populated cities. With over 17 million sqm dedicated to car parking in Los Angeles alone, individuals are questioning whether this is an efficient use of the space. The success of the PARK(ing) Day movement, generating exponential international participation since 2005, demonstrates communities’ unwillingness to rely on government institutions to instigate change. Instead, individuals have taken it upon themselves to search for alternative and more socially beneficial uses for public spaces.
This year saw a huge variety in interpretations of beneficial parking spot use, including cooking demonstrations, dance classes, Bicycle Safety checks, lawn games such as bowling, pop-up libraries, food stalls and arts and crafts. Each display possessed a strong community-building focus, turning the plain empty space into something of unifying value. Urban density is an increasingly prevalent concern, particularly issues surrounding the expected steep rise in residents. CBD’s Sydney and Melbourne are anticipating an additional three million residents by 2050. America’s San Francisco is similarly preparing for a 52% population increase. A central focus of urban development, is ensuring these densely populated areas maintain the appeal of an inner-city lifestyle, especially in their ability to provide social spaces that promote community. PARK(ing) Day’s temporary and easily transportable ideas for space usage is one possible solution.
The increasing prevalence of concerns with efficient space usage, urban density and the move towards action, is intertwined with the rise of the Sharing Economy. Businesses have similarly begun to optimize existing resources to benefit communities, particularly to alleviate costs and frustrations of city life. It is here that PARK(ing) Day and the Sharing Economy meet. Both seek to make areas of concentrated population more effective, vibrant and unified. The fundamental difference is that PARK(ing) Day does not only target an individual’s wasted assets, but presents the potential positive collective outcomes of Sharing Economy start-up’s. By helping individuals optimize private property, companies like Spacer have the ability to free-up public space for community use.
To make use of your wasted space, visit Spacer.com.au.