|On Liberty Street, exactly the size of a parking stall|
|On Commercial street, four stalls worth|
We have a climate crisis, we have a City budget deficit, we will have an algae problem in water supply again, and in a classic expression of "the color of the bike shed" what really gets people worked up is the temporary loss of 6 parking stalls on low-demand block faces.
|So many feelings|
The parklets themselves are pretty underwhelming. It's a "tactical" and temporary project, something that's supposed to be iterated on and maybe this is to be too critical. But it seems like even as temporary installations they could do more.
Since the City chose space already slack for the pilot, presumably to minimize pushback, and since they conform to the size of a parked car, and do not actually "narrow" the street any more than a row of parked cars do, it is not easy to see what we gain by them. Like with too many of the public art installations, we decorate slack space rather than creating excellent space people want to visit or to linger in.
|Does this approach to art help lease up the space?|
We took out benches and bike racks for this.
My first take is that we should have installed the parklets on more active block faces, streets where merchants might experience a real trade-off between parking immediately in front of their business and the improved sidewalk seating experience for restaurant customers. At alley entries, also, they might have shortened mid-block crossing distance for people on foot.
In the sites the City chose, they're just ornamental emptiness.
In the study, both varieties, the parklet and midblock landscape pocket, were deferred for "future study." (The alley entries were not deferred and are a central part of the adopted plan.) Instead of boldly venturing, the City here implemented a timid, tepid example, and they may not be compelling enough to generate meaningful support. As with the FB comments, they may be lightning rods for criticism rather than visions for creativity and praise and real change.
|Midblock planting areas: Punted!|
|If we convert sharrows to a protected micromoblity lane,|
the extensions are a problem.
The parklets impede our ability to reallocate street space. This is a real downside to them, and they remain fundamentally autoist in important ways. They are decoration that do not disturb the autoist system. This may be more a criticism of the Sidewalk Study than of the implementation of these particular parklets, but it's an important perspective.
The City has a survey out, and once you've been by the parklets, fill it out!
Update, May 10th
Even though they are totally in-line with the parking stalls, drivers can't seem to miss them! Maybe the extent to which these are vulnerable will underscore the vulnerability of people on foot and on bike. Cars are dangerous, full stop.