A Contemporary Update to the #BlackFridayParking Tradition

For years, Strong Towns readers have been pointing out the vast empty parking lots on the busiest shopping day of the year as evidence of poor land use regulations. Now the #iwishthisparkingwas hashtag imagines a different future.

Read Time: 2 minutes

November 27, 2020, 5:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

South Mall Parking Lot

Scott Alderfer / Twitter

If the number of flights in the air and cars on the road on the days leading up to Thanksgiving is any indication, Black Friday will be holiday business as usual for many (not all) Americans. That means massive mall parking lots will still not be nearly full in many parts of the country, and probably even less full than usual.

The Strong Towns team has for years spearheaded the #BlackFridayParking social media campaign to raise awareness about the overabundance of parking, even on the busiest shopping day of the year, in most U.S. retail developments. This year, however, with the pandemic upending travel patterns and keeping many people at home, either voluntarily or by force of law, the Strong Towns team is introducing a new angle to the exercise. Daniel Herriges explains:

Photographing largely empty big-box lots in 2020 might not have the same impact as in years past: Of course that parking is empty this year, many will say.

Instead of excusing the country's parking addiction, the pandemic shows how much more productive cities would be without devoting so much space to the storage of private automobiles, according to Herriges. So in this strangest and most tragic of years, the Strong Towns is asking #BlackFridayParking participants to add another layer of meaning to the exercise by adding the #iwishthisparkingwas hashtag.

We want to know what you’d like to see instead of all that parking in your city. And it doesn’t have to be retail parking this year—public, private, any sort of use is fair game. Show us a place where there’s too much parking, but more importantly, tell us (or even illustrate for us, if you’re artistically inclined!) exactly what we’re missing out on by not taking a more flexible, adaptable approach to that space.

If you're looking for inspiration, new open space created in a time of isolation and sedentary living, emergency zoning reform to support restaurant and retail businesses, and transit service changes designed to keep essential workers moving have already achieved an unprecedented encroachment of activity on space previously reserved for cars. Though the transfer of power from car to everything has been surprisingly smooth for much of the pandemic, political support for such efforts has also begun to wain in some parts of the country, so here is another opportunity to imagine a world without so much parking.

Monday, November 23, 2020 in Strong Towns

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Aerial view of MBTA commuter rail station in Concord, Massachusetts among green trees

Massachusetts Zoning Reform Law Reaches First Deadline

Cities and towns had until January 31 to submit their draft plans for rezoning areas near transit stations to comply with a new state law.

February 1, 2023 - Streetsblog Mass

Green alley under construction

Green Alleys: A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

February 2, 2023 - Curbed

Texas Capitol Building

Property Appraisal Caps Unlikely to Pass in Texas

Critics of a proposal to limit property value increases to reduce homeowners’ property tax burden say the measure would destabilize the housing market and cause cities to raise other taxes to compensate.

52 minutes ago - Houston Chronicle

Aerial view of residential development near beach in Oahu, Hawaii

Hawaii State Bills Could Limit or Expand Affordable Housing Law

Some legislators see a law that provides a zoning exemption to affordable housing builders as a necessary way to alleviate the housing crisis, while others worry about the impact of fast-tracked development on land zoned for conservation.

1 hour ago - Honolulu Civil Beat


Cleveland: The Nation’s Most Equitably Walkable City

A new study assesses which cities have the broadest access to walkable neighborhoods.

2 hours ago - Streetsblog USA

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.