People are being urged to reclaim parking spaces outside their homes this weekend, transforming them into mini parks for activities such as fitness classes, tea parties and book clubs.
Organisers of the People Parking Day event are calling on residents in London to commandeer some of the 1 million car parking spaces in the capital for more “people friendly” activities and to improve the local environment.
The campaign founder, Brenda Puech, said: “Not everyone is lucky enough to have a private garden so providing social spaces close to people’s homes is essential. I want every Londoner, whether they own a car or not, to have access to these public spaces.”
Campaigners are calling on the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, and borough leaders to allow residents to apply to create “parklets” in the streets where they live, with an aim to have one on every road in the capital.
Puech said she came up with the idea while recovering from an accident in which she was knocked off her bike by a motorist who ran a red light.
After being refused permission, she set up a parklet outside her home ineast London – a patch of artificial grass with flowerpots, a bench and a sign that read “You’re welcome to park yourself on the bay”, which was subsequently removed by the council.
The campaign is backed by the charity Living Streets and pop-up events are planned across the city this weekend. The best designed parklet will win GBP100, with judging by leading designers at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sam Brown and Heather Whitbread.
As well as their social benefits, organisers say parklets can help address the climate crisis by increasing biodiversity, breaking up heat islands and providing extra storm drainage.
Jeremy Leach, chair of London Living Streets, said: “Allowing people to create parklets will empower communities, build social alliances and enable people to invest in the streets they live in, with a marginal impact on the number of car parking spaces.
“At this time of recovery from Covid and real concerns about climate change, we need to start a huge shift from streets for vehicles to streets for people”