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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – In a city with millions of vehicles and a lack of parking spaces, São Paulo residents are choosing to do away with even more street parking by creating parklets. Parklets are small areas, usually the space of one or two cars, where benches and tables are placed so city residents can sit and appreciate the metropolis.

Braizl, Sao Paulo, parklet
Parklets have become common in a city where vehicles rule the streets, photo by Wagner Tamanaha/Flickr CC.

“The development of living spaces on the street reinforces the social function of the city space as a meeting place,” states the website for the City of São Paulo. According to government officials, parklets are ‘a way to promote social interaction and achieve safer and live public spaces’.

Since 2014 when legislature to create parklets was approved, the city has implemented 55 of these projects throughout São Paulo, and received another one hundred requests for similar structures.

By creating parklets officials say the city is also supporting those walking and cycling around the city.

“In places where we can see the presence of people, where they perform daily activities and daily commutes, it is essential to offer opportunities for people to stay awhile, encouraging them to participate and monitor the city’s events,” say officials.

For Lincoln Paiva president of the Instituto Mobilidade Verde (Green Mobility Institute) the idea, created in San Francisco in 2005, is a welcoming change from the hustle and bustle of a business-oriented city like São Paulo. “We are winning the fight against the ‘unviable city’ paradigm,” Paiva was quoted as saying to Folha de S. Paulo. For the Institute these parklets are living spaces that recover a bit of local history, ‘encouraging people to make new friends and meet neighbors’.

Parklets have been so successful in São Paulo that cities such as Rio de Janeiro (there is one in Leblon on Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva), Belo Horizonte and Goiania are also implementing regulated parklets and Fortaleza, Recife, Porto Alegre and Curitiba have non-city regulated projects.

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