Well, Metro Louisville shut down today’s Park(ing) Day mini-park on Third Street, but the festivities aren’t ending! The park has been moved inside the Urban Design Studio at 507 South Third Street and you’re welcome to stop by any time today for a discussion on what is public space and the litigious nature of the society we live in that prevents such parks from daily occurrence. It’s not enough to “rent” the parking space by feeding the meter.
According to Metro Louisville Public Works, a permit for the Park(ing) Day project would require the approval of Fire, EMS, PARC, and Public Works with a traffic engineer signing off on a traffic plan. A three foot buffer would be required with barriers or reflective cones of some sort. The agency says they are foremost concerned with safety and the permitting process is designed to promote that.
Public Works director Ted Pullen wasn’t immediately available for comment but a spokesperson in his office said, “All it takes is one person texting and driving to kill someone at the event.”
While the safety precautions designed into the permitting process are supposed to keep people safe, Public Works admits that it doesn’t always work citing an example of a biking event a couple years ago that was permitted with heavy traffic regulation. Then, a drunk driver still managed to plow through and kill a cyclist despite the safety precautions. It just goes to show that—permit of not—cars and drivers jeopardize the safety of people.
For the two hours or so that the park managed to occupy the Third Street parking spot, no traffic events went down. Rather, passers by are reported to have expressed genuine interest and excitement at the prospect of a mini-park-for-a-day. Some even had time to sit for a while and at least one game of chess took place.
This example really gets at the heart of the discussion that needs to be taking place: who are our public spaces really for? Such demonstrations serve as an opportunity to market Louisville as a city that promotes out-of-the-box thinking to a broader global community. Louisville must begin thinking actively and creatively about how quality green space affects our built environment. Continue the discussion at the Urban Design Studio!
According to the official site, there were more than 700 Park(ing) Day parks in 140 cities in 21 countries and six continents. At least Louisville had one for part of the day.
Thanks also to Dave Morse for pointing out that the (first?) Park(ing) Day spot occurred in September 2007. We need to make this event explode next year with a few dozen spots—permits in hand. (And we hear that a similar project to this Park(ing) Day park is planned for next week’s World Car-Free Day.) More later.