Op-Ed by Ariel Ben-Amos, published at nextcity.org
Since 2010, over 180 parklets have appeared nationwide. Pretty much wherever they pop up, people love these small platforms that take up one or two parking spaces, and provide space for people to park their keesters instead of their cars. Beloved they are, but easy they aren’t.
It takes time, money and effort to keep parklets clean and inviting — and in many urban neighborhoods, all three of these resources are in tight supply. Given that, it’s no surprise that 75 percent of parklets nationwide are built and operated primarily by private businesses and most are located on busy commercial districts, not the underinvested neighborhoods most in need of welcoming public space.
Yet in Philadelphia, where I work as an urban planner for the city, a different approach has taken hold. This approach offers lessons to other cities seeking to create more inviting public spaces in neighborhoods that are short on them.