The Power of Parklets

The Mayor’s Office of Transportation recently received over 7 responses to its recent Parklet RFP (Parklet Grant RFP).  Community groups from Overbrook to Fishtown submitted applications to help neighborhoods provide even more pedestrian amenities for residents to who want the opportunity to take the moment and enjoy their surroundings.  Parklets have had a big impact in other cities, and we expect them to be just as loved, and as impactful, here in Philadelphia.  The City of San Francisco has over 20 parklets distributed across the City. In 2010 the San Francisco Great Streets Project (SF GSP)  studied the impact of the Divisadero Parklet. Some of the most exciting findings from the study suggest that the presence of Parklets actually drive pedestrian traffic: not only do more people walk on the Parklets’ corridor but they “encouraged a steadier stream of foot traffic throughout the day and week.” As the report notes

  • The
 greatest
 increase
 in
 activity
 was
 seen
 on
 weekday
 evenings
 when
 pedestrian
 traffic
 rose
 37%
 from
 an
 average
 of
 363
 to
 497
 people
 per
 hour.
 The
 average
 number
 of
 pedestrians 
during 
all
 observation
 periods
 increased
 13%.
  • The
 average
 number
 of
 people
 sitting
 or
 standing
 increased
 30%
 from
 10
 to
 13
 at
 a
 time,
 and
 the
 average
 number
 of
 weekday
 visitors
 in
 particular
 almost
 doubled
 from
 8
 to
 14
 people
 at a time.

Earlier this year, SF GSP followed up with a study of three different Parklets.  One thing that becomes quickly apparent, is that each Parklet is very much a creature of its own neighborhood, with impacts related to the nature of the neighborhood within which it is located.

  • On Stockton Street average foot traffic “increased 44% from 304 to 438 people per hour after the parklet was installed.”
  • On Polk Street, “the number of people stopping to engage in stationary activities  significantly increased… the average nearly tripled from four to 11 people at any given time.
  • On Valencia street “When asked what would make the area a better place, 24% of people said wider sidewalks or more public seating, and many said “more parklets” specifically.”

The City expects Parklets in Philadelphia to have a similar effect as they become a regular part of the City’s tool box to make thriving neighborhoods.

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