Two people walking

Brenda Puech from our Hackney Group had been asking her local council to pilot a 'parklet' programme for years. But after feeling she was getting nowhere, she decided to "take matters into her own hands."

Brenda Puech


Brenda, who chairs the Hackney Living Streets Group, tried to pay online for an annual permit for the parking space outside her home. However she found there was no option to use it for a cycle stands, a bench or planters. When she asked if she could pay in person to use it this way, she was told she could not have a permit for anything that does not have an engine.

So she decided to go ahead anyway to show how the space could be used for something other than a car.

Parking bays can be used for more than just parking cars.

'Parklet' programmes allow people or businesses to apply to use a parking bay for communal use for seating or plants. They are common in the US and European cities.

When I offered the council full price for an annual parking permit they refused because I do not have or want a car. Instead I wanted to show how the same space could be used. And I’m afraid I took matters into my own hands. 

The response to the ‘people parking bay’ has been amazing, with hundreds of people sitting in the bay day and night just over its first weekend.

The bay makes people stop in the tracks as they are passing and many of them ending up sitting down. Objections have been minimal - the most common response from people is that they love it.

People want one on their street too. The bay makes people smile and laugh and brings people together. Neighbours are proud that we have this on our street as it has become a visitor attraction.

I hope it will stimulate debate as to how parking bays and kerbside space should be used. It would be great to see 'people parking bays' on every street, where residents and businesses can place something (that is, other than a car) for communal use in a bay when they buy a permit.



Public spaces in cities and kerbsides should be for people, not just for storage of private, stationary metal boxes.

This does not have to cost local authorities money, or lose them parking revenue.

Households in Hackney, where I live, and much of inner London that do not have a car outnumber the car owning homes by two to one.

Yet all our kerbside space is given over to car parking. What is worse, cars in London are parked on average 96% of the time.

This is a waste of valuable street space. A public resource - the street - is being allocated very inefficiently.

Walking is the most common way for people to get around and yet car parking dominates kerbside space. There is little or no provision for walkers to rest.

Many people, including older and disabled people, and people with kids need regular rest stops while walking, and many pavements are too narrow for walking, let alone for benches.

Other than the dedicated cycle lanes, there is little space for cycling on our car-clogged roads.

We make walking, cycling and playing outdoors difficult and unattractive. The result: a society where almost half of children and adults are overweight or obese through physically inactivity.

Many suffer and die from pollution, and more people walking or cycling are killed or seriously injured by cars than any other mode of transport.

Children cannot play on streets that are dominated by parked cars, even when cars are not passing through.

Public spaces in cities and kerbsides should be for people, not just for storage of private, stationary metal boxes.

We could use these spaces for seating, cycle parking or lanes, gardens, play areas or art - the possibilities are limited only by our imagination and our willingness to confront the cars.

Car parking is an under-priced private use of what should be public space. Some of us are asking for part of this space to be given back to the public - especially when the public is willing to pay the same price for it as car owners.

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