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Happy Park(ing) Day: Go Create a Better Street

It's Park(ing) Day around the world -- an international demonstration of the potential to repurpose the space given over to cars in our cities. Right now in more than 160 cities in 35 countries, people are setting up small parks in what, for one day, will turn unremarkable 9-by-18-foot asphalt patches into community gathering spaces.

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Network blog Together North Jersey is dropping in on the event in one of the participating cities -- New Brunswick -- and writes a little bit more on what it's all about:

Temporary parklets are created by bringing sod, plants, tables, chairs, and art to a parking space. Depending on the resources available, the pop-up parklet can include a wooden base, specially designed tables and innovative seating arrangements, or be as simple as a blanket and some beach chairs.

There are many benefits to installing parklets in a community. For nearby business (in the New Brunswick case, a coffee shop), a parklet can provide a comfortable place for patrons to sit and enjoy their purchase. For the neighborhood, parklets can add greenery to areas that may lack it due to narrow sidewalks. For the community, parklets can also host innovative art installations and other forms of entertainment; this Friday, the organizers are planning for some light music.

However, nearby businesses may be concerned that the removal of parking spaces will negatively affect their bottom lines. Even though studies, survey and examples from other cities prove otherwise, nothing is better than a real-world example to display the benefits and generate interest in the idea.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike Portland reports that police have been cracking down on irresponsible drivers in school zones. Wash Cycle provides evidence that 2012's big jump in bike commuting might have come at a loss to transit. And The Urbanophile gapes at the absurd justification for a boondoggle bridge project planned for metro Louisville.

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