Residents to sit in metered parking spaces to promote pedestrian uses
by BRIAN NADIG
A group of residents plan to sit down in metered parking spaces on Friday, Sept. 15, in Jefferson Park as part of a global event to promote how much space vehicles take up in communities and to encourage more pedestrian activities in the business district.
“Park(ing) Day” started in 2005 when a San Francisco artist called for a metered space to be temporary transformed into a park.
Jefferson Park Forward president Ryan Richter said that the neighborhood organization is not advocating for the removal of on-street parking but hopes that staging a parking day event will increase awareness for pedestrian and bicyclist safety. The recent installation of curb bump-outs, which shorten the distance of crosswalks, and pedestrian refuge islands on Milwaukee Avenue are good examples of improving safety, he said.
Outdoor gathering places in the Jefferson Park commercial district also are needed to help bring in more shopping and eating patrons to the area, Richter said.
Efforts are being made to vacate a portion of an alley across from the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave., and to install seating and decorative elements there. In the Six Corners business district, 92 on-street parking spaces were recently removed to allow for bike lanes, and a “people spot” was installed on a temporary platform in the parking lane on Milwaukee. Also, in Jefferson Park in August, a lane of traffic was removed in front of the CTA Terminal to allow for a buffered bike lane.
Richter said that residents are planning to set up chairs and a table in two or three metered spaces in front of the terminal from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on parking day. “We are going to roll out Astroturf to delineate the space,” Richter said.
Jefferson Park Forward will be feeding the meter during the time its members are there, and literature on parking day will be available for passers-by to pick up, Richter said. “The point is to be visible and to show what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s just to get people talking.”
On its Web site, Jefferson Park Forward states the following: “It really is a global event where citizens can take back the streets for one day. Why do this? In part to show just how much of our community’s space is being taken up by the movement and storage of vehicles.
“Think of how wide Milwaukee Avenue is north of Downtown Jeff Park. Think of all the parking lots that have no productive value in our neighborhood. Parking day is a way to highlight the range of possible activities that can be done instead on a piece of real estate otherwise devoted to cars.”
Forward officials have discussed plans for parking day with the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District commander William Looney, and Alderman John Arena (45th) has written a letter of support for use of the parking spaces for the event, Richter said.
Last year a parking day event was held at 511 N. Halsted St., and in 2011 events reportedly were held in 35 countries.