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PARK(ing) Day Makes Places for People

September 22, 2014
Cathy Tuttle, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Executive Director

I LOVE PARK(ing) Day! This nationally celebrated civic holiday fully embodies the foundation of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways: Streets really are places for people.

This year I traveled with a few friends to about 30 of the 50 PARK(ing) Day spaces open 9-3 on September 19. It’s worth noting that our local Greenways-affiliated groups stepped up this year to be part of teams to build 10 of those 50 PARK(ing) spaces.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways groups converted the highly trafficked bridge over Ravenna Park at 15th Ave NE from a four-lane road into a two-laner with biking and walking paths on either side.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways groups converted the highly trafficked bridge over Ravenna Park at 15th Ave NE from a four-lane road into a two-laner with biking and walking paths on either side.

I didn’t have time to go as far north as Lake City or as far south as Bike Works — and we missed the West Seattle Bike Connections setup in front of Husky Deli too — but from Ballard to Broadway, Ravenna Park to the I-District, people around Seattle figured out how to turn asphalt into a malleable medium of joyful public space.

Here are some highlights:
Re-imagineering the Street. All PARK(ing) Day spots take up public right-of-way. Cascade Bicycle Club and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways took a LOT of right-of-way and turned whole streets into places.

Cascade Bike Club also grabbed a street South Lake Union and successfully turned it into two lanes of traffic and a two-way protected bike lane for the day. Re-engineering streets for PARK(ing) Day might become a whole lot more popular in future years. Hope so!

Cascade Bike Club also grabbed a street South Lake Union and successfully turned it into two lanes of traffic and a two-way protected bike lane for the day. Re-engineering streets for PARK(ing) Day might become a whole lot more popular in future years. Hope so!

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways groups University Greenways and NE Seattle Greenways, closed a little-used connector street and converted the highly trafficked bridge over Ravenna Park at 15th Ave NE from a four-lane road into a two-laner with biking and walking paths on either side.

The full story is in this post about the bridge conversion and how it impressed our new SDOT Director Scott Kubly and SDOT Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang so much they are talking about making some of the changes permanent.

Books Belong on the Street. People like to read in public and Seattle is a literate city. Let’s celebrate that! Seattle Public Librarians read banned books in Belltown. Little Free Libraries featured prominently in several PARK(ing) Day pop-ups. Plenty of book give-aways including this setup designed by Schemata Workshop in front of Eltana Bagels in Capitol Hill with books provided by Elliot Bay Bookstore. Here, Tom Fucoloro of Seattle Bike Blog and Kelli Refer, author of Pedal Stretch Breathe take a blogging/reading break.

Schemata Workshop designed spot in front of Eltana Bagels in Capitol Hill with books provided by Elliot Bay Bookstore. Here, Tom Fucoloro of Seattle Bike Blog and Kelli Refer, author of Pedal Stretch Breathe take a blogging/reading break.

Schemata Workshop designed spot in front of Eltana Bagels in Capitol Hill with books provided by Elliot Bay Bookstore. Here, Tom Fucoloro of Seattle Bike Blog and Kelli Refer, author of Pedal Stretch Breathe take a blogging/reading break.

We Want to Play in the Street. Games, photos booths, fun. We love to play in the street at every age. Girls on the Run was one of several playful pop-ups in South Lake Union. Participants who “ran around mini-Green Lake” were awarded a chocolate medal.

Girls on the Run was one of several playful pop-ups in South Lake Union.

Girls on the Run was one of several playful pop-ups in South Lake Union.

People Like to Sit in Funky Furniture. Tom Fucoloro takes another blogging break, sitting here on the mini-golf course designed by Atelier Drome. Read Tom’s PARK(ing) Day report on Seattle Bike Blog.

Tom Fucoloro blogging on the mini-golf course designed by Atelier Drome.

Tom Fucoloro blogging on the mini-golf course designed by Atelier Drome.

The Unbearable Longing for Green. Most all PARK(ing) Day spots tried to add a touch of green. Many ended up with scraggly potted plants and pots of petunias. No one did green better than HBB Landscape Architecture. Their staff created three rooms, representing three planted zones found in Western Washington. Kelli and I walked through this double parking spot oasis a handful of times. We’d step off the sidewalk and into the pop-up and each time felt the pull of the ferns, a hint of the wind in the trees, and we’d instantly relax. We need more beautiful wild biodiversity all over Seattle.

HBB Landscape Architecture created three rooms, representing three planted zones found in Western Washington.

HBB Landscape Architecture created three rooms, representing three planted zones found in Western Washington.

Healthy Streets Build Healthy Businesses 10 Ways. We’re guessing many of the businesses that extended into the street on PARK(ing) Day 2014 will be eager to be part of the parklet program by next year. In fact, Molly Moon’s Ice Cream in Wallingford launched their new parklet on this PARK(ing) Day!

Jimi Hendrix-inspired, music-themed activity park in front of Pioneer Square businesses

Jimi Hendrix-inspired, music-themed activity park in front of Pioneer Square businesses

Note to Schools: Send Your Kids to Play in the Street. Another note for 2015, schools need to get into the act! From Universities to preschools, we’d love to see more schools that let children imagine the world they want and need. What better way than starting with a PARK(ing) Day pop-up with bamboo bike racks here at Salmon Bay School in Ballard?

Bamboo bike racks at Salmon Bay School in Ballard

Bamboo bike racks at Salmon Bay School in Ballard

SDOT Puts People First. Jennifer Wieland is the hard-working genius in the SDOT Public Space Management program. She coordinates Parklets, Play Streets, PARK(ing) Day and much more. Jennifer and I both started our day in the Pronto Bike Share PARK(ing) Day space on Capitol Hill.

Cathy Tuttle, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways & Jennifer Wieland, SDOT Public Space Management program at Pronto Pop-up.

Cathy Tuttle, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways & Jennifer Wieland, SDOT Public Space Management program at Pronto’s Pop-up.