Removing a few parking spaces should get people very excited - Mobility Lab

Mobility Lab has now been writing about the little-know excellent idea of PARK(ing) Day for six years. And despite the stragglers who find it impossible to accept change, the concept is beginning to take hold.

Although the mission of PARK(ing) Day (which occurred Friday) is to create temporary parklets, one day per year, where people can congregate in places traditionally designed for cars, we’ve always wondered why that idea needs to be so modest.

Takoma Park, Md., is taking PARK(ing) Day one step further. It just became the first city in the Washington D.C. region to allow year-round rental of parking spots for the creation of outdoor cafe spaces – parkets.

Takoma Beverage Co. became the first restaurant to take the bait. And now bustling Laurel Avenue has immediately become an even more desirable place to be with the addition of the people-sized (rather than car-sized) meeting space. Doesn’t it just make so much common sense to have people in front of a restaurant rather than cars? Remember, people eat and drink, and cars don’t. In the photo above, it’s easy to see how many people can benefit from that new dining area.

Showing people using dense, highly desirable spaces in ways like this, and the possibilities created by just a minor tweak in parking, is a key transportation demand management strategy that places around the U.S. should be considering. (Such TDM returns on investments can now be calculated for the first time with a new set of TDM ROI calculators.)

Takoma Park’s policy is particularly impressive. Restaurants, coffee shops, cafés, food trucks, retail markets or similar businesses that regularly sell or provide food or drinks are eligible to apply for the Outdoor Café Permit for $145 and with a $90 annual renewable fee.

That’s a steal for these business operators. Likely the biggest cost to them will be the need to invest in bike and scooter parking for all the patrons who won’t want to bother with parking a big ole car and will prefer to pull right up on a more sustainable, economic, healthy, and fun mode of transportation to get there.

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