L.A. Café Crash Serves as Sobering Reminder of Poor Parklet Design

tthompson Crashes

Parklets Design & Benefits

There are many examples of parklets in the United States now. They come in many shapes and sizes, and they have many purposes. All of them abut the existing curb, all of them are parallel to the curb, and all of them are enclosed in some way or another to keep people in and (presumably) to keep intruding vehicles out.

We think that parklets are a GREAT idea – they can be relaxing places, they can be money makers for small businesses, and they can change the dynamic of a neighborhood by giving pedestrians a reason to visit and a place to linger. They are a win-win for everybody – provided they are designed to protect the very people that are encouraged to sit and linger. People should never be targets.

Accident Shows Inadequate Parklet Safety Design

As you can see from the press coverage and video of the Los Angeles accident (HERE) a DUI vehicle impacted the end of a parklet that was being used for outdoor dining at a popular late night restaurant. Reports show that a diner, an employee, and a pedestrian were struck by debris and injured. All were taken to the hospital and all have been released. Significantly, the vehicle did not seem to strike any of the three – it was debris from the parklet itself and the planters around it that were propelled into the injured people.

Obvious Solution For Increased Parklet Safety

The most obvious solution to the problem of parklets is to install inexpensive and effective safety barriers on sides exposed to oncoming traffic. It does not have to look like a castle or fortress, nor does it have to look uninviting. This approach stops the car BEFORE in comes in contact with the structure where people are sitting – simple, safe and proven. ASTM’s proposed standard for safety barriers in street and parking areas such as these is called WK13074. You can read all about it HERE. Steel bollards or barriers could easily have stopped that car before striking the parklet and the people – and done so for only a few thousand dollars.  Either you stop the car just in front of the parklet, or you have to build the parklet so strong that it resists the impact. Either way, the facts are quite simple — you either stop the car, or everyone sitting or standing in or near the parklet is at risk at any time.