Repurposing parking spaces into a friendly place to hang out is enlivening the streetscape in a growing number of U.S. cities and Sacramento is about to join the list. Last October the Sacramento City Council directed staff to develop a pilot program for parklets to begin this spring.
A parklet is a low deck installed in two or three adjacent parking spaces, with seating and decorative elements and often bike parking, too.
Parklets make neighborhoods more inviting, relieve sidewalk congestion, and make businesses more visible from the street. By serving as an attractive destination, they give people yet another reason to get out of their cars, which helps reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and safeguard people traveling on bikes and on foot. A parklet signals to the community that the street is a place for people, not just cars.
In cities like San Francisco and Portland, parklets are a valuable tool for helping make neighborhoods more bike-friendly — in fact, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Great Streets Project was a primary catalyst for introducing parklets as a tool for livabililty.
What do parklets have to do with bicycling? When we help public officials and business owners recognize that public streets are places for people and not just cars, we create the conditions that are friendlier for people on bikes. By replacing parking places, parklets reduce the hazards people on bike face from cars entering and leaving a parking space and from dooring.
Under a pilot program launched in 2014, Sacramento has already issued two permits for parklets in downtown and Midtown Sacramento. The city’s program resembles San Francisco’s, which treats parklets as public spaces, and uses its planning department to ensure appropriate design review, so that parklets are well-suited to their surroundings.
Parklets are already happening in our region — in Nevada City, where a parklet (below) is helping the city regain a lost piece of its identity.
Read more about San Francisco’s parklet program and see pictures of the many great parklets there.
Read about Park(ing) Day, an annual international celebration of parklets launched in San Francisco and that inspires creativity and bold action.