PARK(ing) Day 2015 - The Pallet Cleanser Project

Report by Programs Director Barbara Jacobson

What is PARK(ing) Day?
PARK(ing) Day takes place in cities worldwide the third Friday in September and celebrated its tenth anniversary this year! The event originated in 2005 to address the lack of open/public space in San Francisco and has expanded each year since. The premise of the event is to reclaim and repurpose parking spaces for something other than a parked car. By reclaiming the space for people, it becomes an activated place. PARK(ing) Day is a great way to pilot temporary, creative installations and strengthen the case for more green spaces in cities and towns.

Project Conceptualization
Programs Director Barbara Jacobson and GIS Analyst Mat Schete wanted to repurpose and reuse something that is readily available. Both were interested in bicycling as a way to facilitate economic growth and development. One way to increase patronage to local businesses is to have facilities for bicyclists. It seemed only fitting that since the concept was to utilize a parking space, that the MassBike space should repurpose the one car space for many bike parking spaces. Typically, there is a 10:1 ratio of bicycles parking capacity to car capacity. A standard parking space is 20’ x 7’ so there was plenty of space to repurpose!
Barbara and Mat decided to use wooden pallets for the project because they are strong, durable and adaptable. After finding pallets on craigslist, the pair strapped them to Mat’s car to take them to be crafted into bike parking and a jenga game.

Bike Valet Coordinator Michael Zembruski joined in to help saw out the wooden beams holding the pallets together. This way there would be more room for the bike wheels to run through the pallets and park easily.

Project Installation
Mat and Barbara set up The Pallet Cleanser at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Prospect Street in the Central Square Business District in Cambridge. Adjacent to the Red Line subway station, the MassBike space attracted many visitors to the installation who were not bicyclists. Because of the one-on-one setup with a small table and chairs, it was easy to engage with people who stopped to check out the project.

Project Impact
Overall, we had 150 interactions throughout the day. Temporary pilot programs like Park(ing) Day bring a heightened awareness to public/open space, sustainable transportation and activating cities and streets for people.
Some of the feedback that people said to us:
“I wish this was here year-round.”
“Why only one day?”
“The City should do more of this!”
Project Lessons
Let’s do pilot programming and gather both qualitative and quantitative data.
Let’s work collaboratively with municipal & local business stakeholders.
Let’s solve problems creatively.
Let’s work together.
Let’s do more.

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