Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

It’s time to reclaim the car park

with 2 comments

The Guardian

Hooray, one of my favourite days of the year: International Park(ing) day. This glorious anti-car festival only started in 2005, when a San Francisco-based group called REBAR decided that they would take over a parking space for a day and turn it into a park. So they did.

They brought along some astroturf and a bench and a tree and fed the metre all day long and had a lovely day with people asking what they were doing and why. As one of their members explained, they re-interpreted a parking space as a potential inexpensive short-term lease, and decided that it didn’t just have to be for cars: the day was a success.

But it didn’t stop there. People wanted to know how they could do it for themselves. REBAR explained the basic principle (don’t forget to feed the metre – that’s it really) and set up a website where people could post up pix. By the following year REBAR had a partner (the agreeable Trust for Public Land) and every year since then it’s just got bigger and bigger, spreading all the way around the world, to Italy, Germany and Australia (in the YouTube clip above).

Well, it should spread like wildfire, because it’s such a genius idea. It’s so simple, and yet so pleasing: it makes a very simple point (humans have as much right to this space as cars) and it makes it without nagging (as I am very nearly now doing) or whining, but just by having a laugh.

I have not heard of this before – but what I want to know is why is this not happening here yet and when are we going to start doing it?

UPDATE  Rob Baxter informs me

"It is happening at Main and 26th right now.  A few years ago it was done on Robson Street."
PARK(ing) Day Vancouver

PARK(ing) Day Vancouver by JMV

This image is one of a set of twenty on flickr by Jason Vanderhill

Written by Stephen Rees

September 19, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Posted in parking

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. This was the first year that we at the Vancouver Public Space Network organized a Vancouver PARK(ing) Day; however, we’ve heard of others in the past.

    There was – if all went well – going to be two others today as well (one at UBC and another in the late afternoon on Commercial Drive… both organized by other crews).

    Thanks to everyone that came by the Main & 26th spot and lent a hand to transform the space! One spot this year, next year – one per neighbourhood!


    September 19, 2008 at 10:58 pm

  2. Thanks for this- I’ve found it’s happening a lot here- maybe I’ll join in next year. (ALthough come to think of it, why wait until then?)

    Andy in Germany

    September 21, 2008 at 11:58 am

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