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For #ParkingDayBCN23, we moved our offices to the street. Literally. We set up our workspace on the corner of Provença and Rambla Catalunya, and it was tremendously fun. Part activism, part CoWork, and part public outreach and engagement. Our occupation of a single car-parking space was not an isolated action, but rather part of the global #ParkingDay movement. Together, we aim to demonstrate what can be done in the space allocated to a single parked vehicle. By pumping life into this tiny plot of public space, we show everyone what we are missing when we devote so much city space to car parking. It was brilliantly fun to transform a small piece of asphalt normally allocated for a 1 tonne hunk of metal, into a vibrant CoWorking space with researchers and bicycle advocates.

In my outdoor office today, I meet with PhD student Gemma Simon i Mas to review the draft of our Bike Bus report that we aim to release this fall. With Alejandro Martin Barrera from CUBIC we met to discuss the basic elements of a quality bicycle parking strategy for the city, and how our work might contribute to a larger effort led by the city. We also had visits from the bike advocacy community: Pirata Pik, Jota, Gabriel G., Edu M. We even got a visit from the architect Olga Subriós, the illustrator Luna Ochoa, and former colleagues from the Agència Catalana de l’Aigua located just a few meters down the street.

Another objective was to get the word out about the new campaign #ReportaiPedala that aims to bring attention to the irregular and occasionally decaying conditions cycling infrastructure in the city. This crowdsourcing (citizen science) campaign, led by BACC, and with the support of BiciZen, aims to collectively gather data on incidents, damages or imperfections in Barcelona’s bike lanes. We are asking cyclists to report incidents they see in the BiciZen using the option: safety/other.

The day ended far too early because of the rain. But here are a few of the lessons I walk away with from #ParkingDayBCN23:

  • Decentralized collective action is inspiring. Even though I did not visit the other #ParkingDay spots around the city, it was motivating and fun simply to know that they were there, taking over another spot at the same time. According to organizers, today we occupied 130 parking spaces throughout the city, with the support of 76 organizations.
  • Urban planners (and urban planning academics!) need to spend more time out in the city. Of course, most of us live in cities and we “spend time” there… but being in one place for an extended period of time, really gives you a different perspective on the site: who moves through, who lingers, who rushes by…. Spending the day on the corner of Provença and Rambla Catalunya gave me a greater appreciation of the foot traffic and patterns in daily life in the Eixample. It also reminded me of our past work in Poblenou, where we systematically observed public life and daily patterns in four sites in the neighbourhood. To become better planners and policy makers, we need to be keen observers of public life.

I am already looking forward to #ParkingDay 2024. A huge thank you to the organizers and many organizations who participated!

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