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Tampa played host to twelve installations as part of National PARK(ing) Day this year. What better excuse to go for a bike ride than to go check it out? And, there was no better way to view all 12 stops on the tour than on a bicycle, as the total distance would have been a fairly long walk.

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Just what IS National PARK(ing) Day? Well, here’s a brief description from their website:

Originally created by Rebar, San Francisco art and design collective, PARK(ing) Day is an annual, one-day, global event where artists, activists, and citizens independently but simultaneously temporarily transform metered parking spots into “PARK(ing)? spaces: temporary public parks.

Anyone can participate in PARK(ing) Day, though it is strictly a non-commercial project, intended to promote creativity, civic engagement, critical thinking, unscripted social interactions, generosity and play.

I rounded up my friend Alan Snel and we rode downtown to check out the buzz. Alan used the ride to help advertise the upcoming Bicycle Bash By the Bay, slated for October 11th in Straub Park/downtown St. Petersburg.

Overall, the installations were fun, quirky and oh-so luxurious. Tampa’s downtown is already blessed with a lot of green space, but the locations of many of these “urban oases” helped break up some of the bleak areas.

My personal highlight: Site 8′s “Park N Squeeze”, where anyone who stopped got a shot of hand-squeezed fresh orange juice and a packet containing a orange tree seed so we could “grow our own”.

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I would have liked to have seen some of the other installations on busier streets, as most of the setups were along the Franklin Street corridor…a fairly quiet street. In other cities, I’ve heard tales of PARK(ing) Day installations in VERY prominent locations — in front of big office towers, along the main arterials in and around downtown, etc. But, Tampa made a pretty good choice for the intended tour — as the whole idea is to make viewing the installations a pedestrian/bicycle-friendly endeavor, there wasn’t a whole lot of vehicle traffic to contend with.

Anyhow, I shot a lot more photos…please check them out at my Flickr stream.

It was fun…here’s to an even bigger and better one next year!