How to Create an Unloved Public Space: Surround It With Parking

Why do some city spaces seem to exude joy while others seem so lonely?

Bishop Arts Pocket Park in North Oak Cliff, Texas, was poorly conceived and gets no love. Image: ##http://bikefriendlyoc.org/2013/02/11/how-to-create-an-uninviting-and-unloved-public-space/##Bike Friendly Oak Cliff##

Jason Roberts at Bike Friendly Oak Cliff in suburban Dallas has some theories. And he uses one of those sad-sack parks — Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts Pocket Park — as an example:

I’m referencing this project because it’s often cited by an area property owner as to why public space projects are failures. Also, the owner cites the “private space” as being a better steward of the land, though one could simply drive up and down Davis Street in North Oak Cliff and point out endless private edge failures. On closer inspection, it’s fairly simple to see why the Bishop Arts pocket park is unused. First off, let’s address the basics:

Size: Approx. 40’x40′

Edges

        North side: Davis and Bishop Street t-intersection

        South side: Parking lot

        East side: Parking lot

        West side: Non-active edge of building

Amenities: Concrete semi-circle bench, abstract art, trash can, 1 park bench facing South parking lot.

When creating public space, there are a handful of focus points that must be addressed to help create an active area which include: 1. Safety. 2. Shared Access. 3. Stay Power (8-80 Rule)

Here’s a break down of the grade for each: Safety grade: F

Right off the bat, you’ll notice the pocket park faces Bishop and Davis Streets. If you are a parent with small children does this edge look or feel safe as a place to linger? At night, car lights will be facing you, and no separation (outside of the curb) prevents a vehicle which is t-boned at this intersection from encroaching onto the public space.

As an example of a more successful public space, Roberts holds up a similarly sized park in Silver Spring, Maryland, which features bollards to enhance safety, movable chairs and tables that invite people to linger, and edges that engage with nearby businesses.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Joseph Rose at Oregon Live teases some useful information out of TTI’s recent Urban Mobility Report, which found that Portland averted 6.9 million hours of gridlock and $151 million in lost productivity thanks to its transit system. World Streets is using street furniture as a lens to examine the pedestrian friendliness of cities. And The City Fix explains the four distinct generations of innovation that have produced current bike-sharing technology.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Will Dallas Climb Out of the Bike-Friendly Cellar?

|
Bicycling Magazine recently delved into the question of what makes a bike-friendly city, and of all the places they rated, Dallas came out at the bottom. But maybe it won’t stay there for long. Network blog Bike Friendly Oak Cliff (reporting from suburban Dallas) took a closer look at how the Big D is faring. […]

In Dallas, a Community Transforms a Street

|
The people at Bike Friendly Oak Cliff tipped us off to this video about a truly inspirational event that happened in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas a couple of weeks ago. With about a thousand bucks and some elbow grease, neighborhood residents transformed a rundown city block for two days, creating a vibrant streetscape […]

Lancet Study: We Must Reduce Auto Dependency

|
Lots of catching up to do after the holiday weekend. Here’s a sampling of what’s been coming in over the network: Austin on Two Wheels threw a link up on Twitter to a very intriguing article published last week in the influential medical journal The Lancet (registration required). According to the Montréal Gazette, the researchers […]

The Effect of Climate Change on Transport Infrastructure

|
A sobering post today from the Streetsblog Network on the importance of preparing our transportation system for the effects of climate change. Megan McConville at The City Fix reports on a panel titled "Perspectives on Adaptation to Climate Change," hosted by the Engineers Forum on Sustainability. The message? "We can no longer focus exclusively on […]