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September 20th, 2019 was Park(ing) Day Boise. This is a day when the City of Boise reserves a few parklets (small portions of the sidewalk that extend into the street, making more room for pedestrian traffic) for booths to help encourage people to consider how to use streets differently as public areas.
Deanna Smith, Program Coordinator of Idaho Smart Growth said, “Not that long ago, a generation and a half, maybe two generations ago, streets were truly genuine public spaces. They were a way to get around, but they connected us, they were places people could meet, sell things, interact.”
A large majority of public space in cities, more than eighty percent, is devoted to paved streets designated for vehicles. Deanna Smith believes this isn’t helping the current social and political climate throughout the nation.
“By taking the human element out of our streets, I believe we have added a division. There are people you don’t ever have to encounter, people you don’t ever have to interact with or look in the eye. You get in your car, you go somewhere, you get in your little bubble, and whatever is outside of it is outside of it.”
The Park(ing) Day parklet on Main St. and Capital Blvd. is hosted by Energize our Neighborhoods, which is a community improvement program that takes place on the neighborhood level. It aims to assist with improvements by engaging with public safety officers, schools, and making municipal amenities available to many different neighborhoods.
Energize our Neighborhoods’ Park(ing) Day booth is intended to help the public consider different modes of transportation, whether through carpooling, biking, or public transport. Energize our Neighborhoods’ goal is to reduce single-driver car trips in Boise by ten percent.
All the parklets have their own booths that are hosted by different organizations, all aimed at helping Boise grow in ways that will benefit everyone.
What do you think? Do our streets need to allow for more face-to-face human interaction? Should they be left for vehicles only? Would civil discourse improve with more human-to-human interaction on our public streets? Next Park(ing) Day, Go! visit all the parklets and find out what they do to get involved to help improve our great city.
Be sure to check out Energize Our Neighborhoods and Idaho Smart Growth via the links below. See you next Park(ing) Day!