Freeways and parking are generally added to promote commerce, but the Overhead Wire discusses the damage this kind of public infrastructure has in terms of lost tax revenue, lower property values, and lost employment. Overhead Wire compares the destruction to downtown areas to a bombing. Especially striking to me is his comparison of modern downtown Houston with Rotterdam after it was leveled by bombing in World War II. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t see what we were doing to our wonderful cities in the name of cars first. Europe had war, yet we dismantled our cities in a similar way in the name of progress.”
The Houston photo is a little bit dated, but a check with Google Maps shows a huge swath of that city is still covered in parking lots.
In the meantime, the city of San Francisco plans to remove street parking to convert it into public space in their Pavement to Parks 2.0 project. What’s especially unique is their plan to use $10,000 wooden decks to cover the parking spaces, instead of $100,000 concrete bulbouts.
City planners say they were inspired by the innovation and success of Park(ing) Day, when local activists converted street parking into park spaces by placing park benches, potted trees, and even rolls of turf on the pavement.
Many San Francisco sidewalks are often jam packed with pedestrians, so these efforts to create more public space of the human powered are welcome.
- SF Chronicle: Cafes get more sidewalk under North Beach plan
- Streetsblog: San Francisco Takes Parking Spaces for Trial Sidewalk Extensions
- Overhead Wire: Parking Bombs.
Props to Dave Reid