First Parking Day in Almaty: How else can one use parking space?

05 Oct 2015

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Supported by Akimat of Almaty, the UNDP/GEF CAST project has held the first festival of urban «parking space» included in the framework of the «Car Free Day». Its was to demonstrate the inefficiency of the use of space when it's occupied by a parked vehicle, and presented alternatives for the use of parking space.

The campaign has turned into a bright, creative and inspiring event. Almaty designers, artists and young architects used parking spots to organise so-called «parklets» - mini-zones for recreation - where citizens could take rest and see for themselves how the urban space can be changed in just one day.

Participant and Public Coordinator of campaign, landscape architect of the GOROD projects' laboratory, Katerina Novoselova said: «The purpose of the Parking Day is to show that the city is a common space for all of us and how the vast territories occupied by vehicles could turn into parks, cafes and recreation areas for our citizens. This campaign is a small drop in people's consciousness, an attempt to demonstrate to the citizens that our city is communal and we're able to fill it with useful content. It was a great pleasure for me to work with UNDP/GEF project in making joint efforts to create such an extraordinary campaign».

The Parking Day was appreciated by pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. More than 60 cyclist and at about 1000 pedestrians could take a break and know more of a «Car Free Day», take a picture resting on the parklet, socialize and just relax to forget about the hustle and bustle. From positive feedbacks of citizens it is clear that people support a «Car Free Day» movement and want more of such campaigns on a larger scale.

Participant of the Parking Day, Alesya Nugayeva (ETO-Dvor) said: «For me it was the first experience of successful combination of something dynamic and something static, the speed of passing cars, people hurrying to work and "dangling" green oasis of calm in the midst of a city center with its smiling people inviting to enjoy pastry, sit in a chair, have a chat, play games, ride a bike, dedicate one of the days to take care of the city, stop and breathe the scent of September after a morning rain and to take a walk».

The venue was not chosen by chance: parklets are located closely to sidewalks, cafes and small shops, to convey the sense of campaign to all participants - a parking space is our common area but not a private property of motorists.

The campaign has attracted a great attention of the media - about 10 representatives of periodicals and television attended the campaign and issued stories about the Parking Day.

We were supported by a group of students of Satpayev KazNTU, a group of students of KazGASA, architectural project EAST45 and projects' laboratory GOROD, workshop NB! under the leadership of Timur Aktayev, TSUNAME SHOP and New Bisquit first coffeshop in Almaty.

Author: Mariya Sharova, communications specialist for UNDP/GEF project "City of Almaty Sustainable Transport" (CAST)

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