Parking Day may not change many minds about parking, but it may change some minds about space. According to the website, parkingday.org, Parking Day, Sept. 21, is an “annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into public parks.”
Walk & Roll, a committee of Evanston150, has plans for Parking Day in Evanston. About four 60-square-foot parking spaces will be put to different uses, feature entertainment, food and family fun. The point of Parking Day is to “reclaim” streets, presumably from vehicular traffic. Walk & Roll appears to be sending a more expansive message, asking that we reconsider our concept of streets: how we use them, what we use them for and how to make them safe for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
Events such as block parties, Parking Day, Bike to Work Day and Bike the Ridge allow us to enjoy streets in a different way, perhaps because the space blocked off and dedicated to a single use.
The idea of sharing the somewhat daunting, principally because most people in Evanston, be they drivers, cyclists or jaywalkers, seem to consider the streets are theirs alone. Cyclists routinely blaze through stop lights and stop signs, cars breeze past pedestrians timidly waiting to cross the street and jaywalkers amble across major streets, willfully oblivious to oncoming traffic. The attitude toward “Share the Road” seems to be “You share it first.” We all need to slow down a bit. There is room for everyone, and, with the exception of emergency vehicles, time enough as well.