This is a photo of a parklet outside of my office in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia. Parklets are essentially raised platforms put in parking spots meant to offer pedestrian-friendly seating in dense city communities. They also become something of a rallying cry for anti-car urbanism, by taking something for an automobile and giving it to pedestrians.
I am a pedestrian — I bicycle to work and use mass transit whenever I don’t. What’s more is that I sit in this parklet a lot. I benefit from it plenty — it’s very pretty — and I like and use parklets throughout Philadelphia. I think the parklet movement is a cool one. That said, I also think this particular parklet’s placement is misguided.
I’m no serious driver, but I’m fascinated by car culture in all its forms.
Like the severity with which parking is taken in many urban neighborhoods in even transited cities, Philadelphia certainly included. My own new neighborhood of Fishtown has all the makings of a fight to be had: long-time residents, a conflicting gentrifying population, limited parking, middle class to working class and, recently, a historic snowfall.
I’ve been in neighborhoods where people reserve parking year round — around a quickly expanding Temple University community with serious town-gown issues — and so these topics seem to vary. But mostly, I figure you ought to have a majority of these requisites to toss a chair of bucket to block off street parking.
Snow storm or some other limited or relatively rare happenstance that dramatically limits parking
You dug out the spot
It’s in front of your house
It’s on your block
You’re elderly or infirm
You have children younger than five
You’re grocery shopping, moving or something else involved lugging or carrying from your car to your house
I spoke to series producer Andrew Dunn and executive producer Dan Flaherty of A&E’s popular reality show “Parking Wars” for last Tuesday’s issue of Metro-Philadelphia.
The show, which has followed staff of the Philadelphia Parking Authority for two seasons, is back for a third, which will also include scenes from Detroit’s parking enforcement agency. Unfortunately, that piece only ran in print, not online, although the week before I had another story on the PPA that was put on the newspaper’s Web site.
Because of space limitations, my Q&A with those two producers was additionally slashed, leaving just a few questions with Dunn. Below, I share what Flaherty, the show’s co-executive producer, had to say.