7 Nov 2023

The kerb of our streets is the often-forgotten public space that has the potential to transform streets into places of enhanced economic, social and cultural activity.

Rethinking our kerbs is good for business and communities. For example, using a car parking space for a bike parking corral or a dining parklet can generate about 80% more expenditure than the average 1.2 people that would be using it as a car parking space.

It’s all about using space more efficiently and in a way that will attract more people.

Increasing the density of people on high streets through more visits and longer stays can be achieved by improving street amenity. The heatmap below shows an example of McKeon Plaza, Maroubra, before and after street amenity improvements were undertaken as part of Transport for NSW’s successful Streets as Shared Spaces.

According to research undertaken by Urbis on the program, it showed that amenity improvements to streets – such as planting, outdoor dining, wider footpaths, and slower speeds – can generate an estimated 22% more revenue for businesses across the street.


Increased visitation where streets have amenity improvements (Example McKeon Plaza, Maroubra)


Through COVID-19 we saw the potential of kerbside to enliven shopping streets, with the introduction and wide-spread use of dining parklets across Australia. The enduring appeal and use of dining parklets is a testament to local governments, but there is more to the kerbside’s potential than dining-only parklets.

Urbis Director Alison Lee together with Dr Amelia Thorpe from UNSW developed a spectrum of parklet uses for the Committee for Sydney’s Everyday Culture Report. The report recommends a streamlining of approval approaches and establishing a policy context in which these parking-spaces sized opportunities for culture can thrive.

Dining Parklets

These work anywhere in front of businesses but are ideal on high streets as they add extra amenity in highly visited areas. A single parklet is typically associated with one food/beverage business.

Image: Gertrude Street, Fitzroy (VIC)
Image: Gertrude Street, Fitzroy (VIC). Click to enlarge.

Semi-public Parklets

These work similarly in high streets, but are best in locations where multiple eateries offering takeaway could benefit or in locations where there is a absence of public places to sit.

Image: Liverpool (NSW) – Streets as Shared Spaces Round 2 Credit: Tim Pascoe
Image: Liverpool (NSW) – Streets as Shared Spaces Round 2
Credit: Tim Pascoe. Click to enlarge.

Community Parklets

Community organisations can operate these in front of buildings, such as libraries, galleries and museums, or even local businesses wanting to contribute to the community. Community parklets could also exist as public space parklets, which could include pocket parks, seating and gardens. These could work in residential areas, particularly high-density residential settings, where people may not have much access to outdoor space. These become spaces in which people can meet their neighbours and access local green space.

Image: Exploratorium ‘Ciencia Publica’ Parklet in San Francisco, image from www.groundplaysf.org
Image: Exploratorium ‘Ciencia Publica’ Parklet in San Francisco, image from www.groundplaysf.org. Click to enlarge. 


We need to inject life and culture into our streets and create great places that are not purely about moving traffic and people. The potential for kerbs in transforming our streets into welcoming hubs of enhanced economic, social, and cultural activity is significant. Harnessing this potential will enhance the communities and businesses that use them.

Attractive streets attract more people.


1 Urbis, 2021, Economic Benefits of dining parklets, bike parking and car parking, www.linkedin.com/pulse/economic-benefits-dining-parklets-bike-parking-car-alison-lee/
2. Urbis, 2023, Benefits Realisation: The Value of Kerbside Activation, study undertaken for Transport for NSW
3. Note 1: Based on results from 4 case study locations that took place in the Streets as Shared Spaces Program (Round 2).
4. Note 2: Benefits Realisation: The Value of Kerbside Activation was undertaken as exploratory research on potential community benefits only and not government policy.