The Eye of the Fish

September 17, 2011

Parking Day

The Fish has been following developments in Parking Day for the last couple of years, and is heartily pleased that someone has got off their chuff and started the movement here too. Greg Bodnar managed to check out the scene in Lower Cuba St and check into a parking place for a few hours – taking up the officially designated car park space and turning it into a people park, complete with lovely (very) fake grass. While initially a bit concerned that local Council officials might come and ticket him / tow him away, apparently there was instead some good gods from the Council who just wanted to chat. The grass remains unticketed. Got any good photos Greg?

The Parking Day phenomenon has been on in the States for a few years – where some people have been taking it to an extremely sophisticated level. I’m pretty sure that it started in San Francisco, or at least, I think I’ve seen a good video of a greenish park cycling around the San Fran Capitol, and the local mayor coming out to have a chat. It would be good to get some local support behind this, and maybe next year do it on a larger scale?

The site of this minor traffic planning ingression is of course the new part of lower – sorry, Lower Cuba St. Calling something Lower is never really a good idea – witness the Hutt’s efforts to break away from that name for years now – and the pretty sad state of the new paving down there speaks volumes. Having a couple of dozen car parks in the middle of what should rightfully be a pedestrian area really doesn’t help much, and once the few Spartan trees grow a bit, it may be nicer, but the quality of the urban design down there is less than salubrious.

I’m hopefully however, that with the new Gordon Blue school for Foodies going in there, we are going to see a blossoming of Lower Cuba, into a gourmet Mecca with outdoor seating, market stalls, fresh food being given away daily by charming teenage chefs (making a nice change from stale smoke and beer emanating from the Downtown lounge), and a whole lot more green courtesy of people like Greg. Year round, not just for a day…

20 - 09 - 11

Witnessed a driver honking at a pedestrian in this “shared space” today. We need to level the playing field somehow. I suggest we place a rack of sledge hammers at each end. Pedestrian’s pick one up at one end, leave it at the other. If a car honks on the way through, smash the car. (Am I being too militant?)

Maximus, are you still maximuseyeofthefishorg?

20 - 09 - 11

Beg pardon, maximus[at]eyeofthefish[dot]org

20 - 09 - 11

Yep, sure am. General email is contact@eyeofthefish dot org. I’m appalled at alleged honking. Thoroughly approve of sledgehammers.

21 - 09 - 11

Why was the driver honking? To say “hello, I like your park!” or “f*** off out of my parking space”? Sledgehammer? We need to convince motorists that it’s possible to share, not bully them into it. How about a ‘honk and wave to support Parking Day’ sign?

24 - 09 - 11

Basil you’re being too reasonable. I suppose you wouldn’t support arming cyclists with guns too? :)

In this case the honking appeared to be because the driver couldn’t understand why there was a pedestrian in his way. There was no recognition. The pedestrian was in his way because he was walking in a lazy diagonal across the street but the other side was blocked by a truck so he was diverted along the length of the truck, and thus causing the motorist to drive behind him at a pedestrian pace.

25 - 09 - 11

My understanding of the rationale of Shared Spaces is that the surface / space is such that car drivers don’t know whether they are really meant to be there or not, and for it to feel so much like a pedestrian only zone, that the cars drive vvvvveeeerrrrrry slowly, and certainly don’t honk at people there – or run them over. But that is not what we have here. There are some trees, and benches, but by and large we have a space with asphalt and designated parking spaces for cars, and we have some pavers for people to walk on under the verandahs. About the only thing different from a standard street is the couple of larger bays that project out, and the lack of kerbs. It’s not overly conducive to sitting out in the middle of the street listening to a busker or a rock band, should one ever decide to play there.