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On National Park(ing) Day, Boise Shows What City Could Be Like With Fewer Cars


Zach Piepmeyer said approximately 80% of all public space in cities around the U.S. is used by cars—an almost unbelievable amount, considering the massive size of some city parks, but Piepmeyer ought to know. He works in transportation planning for the City of Boise.

"Our hope is to just bring awareness to the public that a significant portion of our public spaces is dedicated to automobiles," he said.

Piepmeyer was speaking from a parklet erected in front of City Hall, carved out of a parking space, part of National Park(ing) Day, in which parking spaces across downtown were converted into tiny parks on Sept. 20 to illustrate what the City of Trees would look like if less space were used to accommodate cars. NPD, which is a national movement, dovetails with a Boise goal of reducing single-occupancy car ridership by 10% over the next decade.

"There are literally unlimited things we can do with this space," Piepmeyer said.

Erin Bennett, left, set up a parakeet in front of Bittercreek Ale House on Eighth Street. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Erin Bennett, left, set up a parakeet in front of Bittercreek Ale House on Eighth Street.
In Boise, NPD took place across four locations. In front of Bittercreek Ale House, Erin Bennett was still setting up her parklet, which already contained a few potted plants and trees, some fake grass and a pair of metal roosters. She said she would set up some lawn games to go with her park, but the idea is to show that cities are healthier and more pleasant when less space is dedicated to cars. Bennett emphasized the health aspect, since she works in government relations for the American Heart Association.

"This has been a kind of guerrilla movement around the country," she said. "Communities should be built for [people], not for cars."

Some people got creative with their parklets. In front of D.L. Evans Bank, Jesse Buster of Stack Rock Group riffed off the parklet that was in that location in 2018, separating the parking space from traffic with wood pallets and setting up a corn hole game and a coffee stand.

"What simple, easy materials you can put together," he said. "What are some materials that can occupy some space and give people some seating—it has that whole tactical urbanism feel."