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Friday, September 20, 2013

Parking Day with AGoNiPoBi, Flock Picnic

9/20/2012 #226 48m
Today is PARKing day, when people Occupy a parking space and instead of putting their personal property (automobile) in it, they use it as - well, as a park.

Started riding at the Bastille on the North Side, and rode Forbes out to Oakland. Passing through Uptown I noticed a new coffee shop at 1919 Forbes, River City Java, that's not yet open and stopped to check it out. This may have been open a few years ago, closed, and is re-opening. They're still installing and establishing, and expect a grand opening in a month. Always good to see another coffee shop, especially good to see an investment in Uptown.

A group of riders from the BikePgh message board was going to ride to all the PARKing Spaces together, and Salty volunteered to map the route, so we mustered at Dippy in Schenley Quad. Started off with nine cyclists (three LHTs!), added two, lost two, it was a nice group size. There's two things I love about PARKing day: (1) it invites you to imagine other uses for public space besides car parking, and (2) it demonstrates how easy it is to get around town on a bike. You wouldn't want to have to drive to all these locations, park a car, etc.

All of the PARKing spaces were interesting. This one on Forbes really rocked, it was a group of CMU design students emphasizing sustainability. They built a very impressive green space, which really looked natural and integrated. They asked people to write down their aspirational or affirmational statements on post-its which they hung up on strands between the saplings, sort of like Tibetan prayer flags carry their message on the wind. This gets a five-star award, it was extremely well done and they carried the message well.

I thought the CMU team would take Top Awards, but the Best Parking Spot of the Day Award has to go to Rothschild Doymo Collaborative, hands down, far-and-away the best.

The photo doesn't convey it, but the R-DC PARKing spot flows as an extension of an existing green space adjacent to their building. It didn't seem like a temporary arbitrary intrusion into the parking lane, but instead it seemed like a very organic continuation of the greenspace out a little bit further. It was just tremendous.

The measure of it's excellence is this: this was the only PARKing space that didn't need anybody to explain it. You could see the thing, understand it, interact with it, and enjoy it. A few of us said, I could stay here all day. It was just that good. Very nice done. Chapeau!

Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville, which is a new art-house film theater being built in an old space, did something that was clever, creative, and commercial yet completely within the PARKing day philosophy of an alternative use of a parking spot: they built a movies-in-the-park space. I really liked that. They also offered hard-hat tours of their construction within the building, this is going to be very cool.

The Western Pa. Conservancy had something unique in that it was a permanent rather than a temporary installation. Their parking space draws attention to the living wall and the landscaped green space in a parking lot (completely on theme!) that's been there for two years. They were pleased to point out that the improvements did not cost the loss of any parking slots, so no negative business impact. This type of living wall is apparently much less expensive than the showcase wall on the PNC building, but returns many of the same benefits.

As we pulled up to each PARKing Space, the people would ask us, Who are you guys? Who are you with? What's your group's name? The first few times, I felt a bit stymied at this friendly stop-and-frisk, and slightly at a loss for identity. So when the next people asked, Joanne said "we're a group of nice people on bicycles", which works out to AGoNiPoB. So there's that.

Swag from the day included two T-shirts, a new-fangled light bulb, and a bagel. Ended at OTB Cafe with black bean cakes, totally excellent.

Logistics had me driving around and happily dealing with loved ones and cars but then later in the evening, at about 8.30 pm I found myself at CMU about to cycle to Coraopolis. I was so pleased to see a group of 30 bikes at the Schenley Quad and quite by chance stumble upon the Flock after-ride picnic. That was a very pleasant surprise, and they fed me too - turkey and ham and cheese, whoo hoo.

It was a very pleasant night for a dark-ride and I got another 20 miles in. 48 miles for the day, and rain tomorrow.

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