During a Saturday bike ride I happened upon the the parklet in the center of Lexington right out front of Ride Studio Cafe. It’s a small plot, just two parking spaces long, but does encourage some great interaction and is in its third summer. A mom of 3 sat there with her toddler and twin infants talking with passersby, another foursome sat drinking coffee deep in discussion, and a few cyclists parked and walked into surrounding stores.
Last month my wife and I were in the small vacation town of Magog, Quebec and saw much the same phenomenon. Parklets, taking up a parking spot or two, acted as outdoor seating for nearby restaurants. Not only did this extend their business potential, but it also added to the streetscape.
These aren’t perfect by any means. In fact, attempts at parklets have failed in parts of Boston even as they’ve succeeded elsewhere. But when I walk through places like Newton Centre, Newtonville, West Newton and Newton Highlands, I can’t help but think that we can greatly enhance the quality of pedestrian life with some life on the street.
What’s to stop us from implementing this program? I have to imagine that some businesses would like the additional seating a parklet could bring in exchange for the cost of a single parking space.