Jul 09, 2009

Picture the Sharing Revolution, Part 2: Driveways

Today, the average household has about 2.28 cars. If every household gave up one car and met any transportation gaps with carsharing, carpooling, bicycling, and public transportation, we'd free up a ton of driveway space. Here are some thoughts about what people can do with all of this newfound space:

  • Driveway Movie Theater. My partner pointed out that with a long extension cord and projector, we could turn our driveways into good old-fashioned outdoor theaters (not "drive-ins" mind you, because no one will be driving). Wait until sunset, cover the garage door with a sheet, set up some chairs in the driveway, fire up the popcorn popper, and press "play."
  • A Mural at Every House. Garage doors are great spaces for murals, and murals are a wonderful way to bring communities together and make the world a more beautiful place.
  • Chalk Art Studio and Gallery. Along the same lines of beautifying the neighborhood, you can turn one driveway into a chalk art studio and gallery. Keep a bucket or two of good chalk around, and let the creativity flow. A sloped driveway would be especially good for this, because it makes for easier viewing by awestruck passers-by.
  • Skating Rink and Skate Park. Create a barrier at the end of the driveway so that no one rolls into the street, install a grinding rail, and set the kids loose to skate to their hearts' content. (With proper supervision, of course, and only if everyone is using wrist guards and helmets. I'd also recommend knee, elbow, and -- oof -- butt pads.)
  • Basketball Court. That's a no brainer.
  • Parking for the Neighborhood Electric Cars. You can use one driveway as a charging station for the shared electric vehicles in the neighborhood.
  • Container Herb and Vegetable Garden. Install a container garden in one driveway so that all neighbors can all come grab a sprig of oregano or rosemary when a recipe calls for it.
A note about removing driveways: Another option is to remove all or part of a driveway and put in a garden, lawn, or playground. But before you convert parking land to park land, check your local zoning laws and get permission from your city. In many neighborhoods, it's a requirement that each house have a certain amount of driveway space. This is how cities control crowded street parking conditions. There's a possibility that your driveway is larger than your zoning law requires, so it may be worth checking into the possibility of partial removal.