I’ve written before about how we have streets that are too wide, as well as far too much parking. So what should we do with all the wasted pavement?
One solution would be to dig it up and turn it into buildings or parks. But that’s costly and requires massive demand.
A simpler solution is to simply use existing street and parking space for something else. For example, while in New York recently I saw an example of this idea in action:
In the picture above, a curb is visible on the right side near the food vendors. Presumably, that’s where the street and the sidewalk formerly met.
Today, however, the “sidewalk” has been extended out 20 or so feet. Planters running along the left side of the picture create a physical (and psychological) barrier between the seating area and the traffic. It’s also worth mentioning that this street obviously has a lot of traffic on it, but people nevertheless are choosing to sit down. It just goes to show that a great space will attract users.
Compared to digging up streets and parking lots, this approach is easy and cheap. Applied to Provo, and especially downtown, it could be used to extend sidewalks and create more outdoor seating for restaurants and shops without any costly changes to the physical infrastructure. It could even be deployed temporarily as a test.
Manhattan is a place filled with traffic jams and, according to the conventional wisdom in the West, inadequate parking. But despite those conditions, the city has still chosen to use potential car space for nothing more than sitting and lingering. It’s no wonder, then, that Union Square is an exceptionally popular and pleasant place.