What’s the value of a parking space? On Sept. 15, artists, activists and residents of San Joaquin County will become part of a worldwide effort to transform those spaces into something more than a place for a car.
Downtown Stockton will hold its inaugural PARK(ing) Day event, which was started in San Francisco in 2005 as a way to transform public spaces into something more. The San Joaquin Bike Coalition has come together with local artists, businesses and others to “lease” out five parking spaces during normal business hours on Friday.
The SJBC sees the event as a way to encourage citizens to think differently about the use of public spaces, and it’s a good way for the organization to encourage people to use alternate modes of transportation (such as bicylcles).
“The idea is to take over a public parking space for the day, to imagine how that space might be better used,” said Matt Beckwith, a board member with SJBC. “There will be artists and a few downtown organizations participating. The SJBC and HUB (Helping Urban Bicyclists) will be taking over a parking sport to do free valet bike parking all day.”
Beckwith said Downtown Stockton lacks adequate parking for bicycles, so the event was an obvious choice.
The SJBC advocates bicycle safety and bicycle-related events. The organization works with local government to implement things like bicycle lanes on public roadways and resources both motorist and cyclists. It hosts events like the once-a-month Long Slow Distance ride that takes place the first Saturday of each month and the Full Moon Riders bike rides.
The efforts of the SJBC and other groups like HUB, Bike Lodi, Road Finch and local bike shops seem to be paying off.
“We (the SJBC) take seriously our role of advocating for cycling (and walking), but understand that we are part of a much larger group of organizations and people that are helping to make the area more cycling friendly,” Beckwith said.
PARK(ing) Day is also a way to bring attention to the detriments of curbside parking. In the past, business owners in Downtown Stockton have lamented on the lack of convenient parking, especially for employees.
“In urban centers around the world, inexpensive curbside parking results in increased traffic, wasted fuel and more pollution,” said Matthew Passmore of Rebar, the San Francisco-based art and design studio that began PARK(ing) Day. “The planning strategies that generated these conditions are not sustainable, nor do they promote a healthy, vibrant human habitat. PARK(ing) Day is about reimagining the possibilities of the urban landscape.”
When PARK(ing) Day concludes, after parties will be celebrated at Cast Iron Trading Co., Channel Brewing Co., Bella Vista Restaurant and the Deliberation Room. Live music will be played and food and drink specials will be offered.
For more information, visit www.sjbike.org