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Pavement Parks: a Better Parklet Alternative

Too often, street-side parklets become little more than semi-private patios for the businesses that sponsor them. Pavement parks, replacing dangerous intersections, may be a more worthwhile option.
October 4, 2015, 1pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Matt Hurst

Parklets are beloved of many urbanists, and Daniel Cohen argues they shouldn't be. Besides their minuscule size, parklets can be off-putting to pedestrians who confuse them for private spaces. "Perhaps it's fair that the parklet paid for by and in front of the ice cream shop is used primarily by their customers, but a semi-public use of public space is only semi-better than private car parking."

Cohen observes that parklets are generally located along commercial arterials, furthering limiting their appeal. "If given the choice to sit within inches of fast-moving cars and their emissions and the choice to sit anywhere else, I'm going to take the latter."

Seattle's First Hill "pavement park" replaces a dangerous intersection in a residential neighborhood. Cohen praises its accessibility, permanence, and significant imprint on the area. The pavement park fills a need for public space and helps calm traffic: factors that, Cohen argues, parklets have failed to address.

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Published on Monday, September 21, 2015 in Next City
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