It is hoped that five new “parklets” will be set up in Kingston as part of the council’s £30 million mini-Holland cycling scheme Go Cycle.
First created in San Francisco in the mid-2000s, parklets are small roadside areas aimed at making streets more pleasant and attractive, where people can rest or socialise.
They are often built in parking spaces in urban areas where fewer and fewer people own cars.
Kingston Council is currently tendering contracts to build and maintain the sites, and has given a description of what it envisages.
They are expected to brighten up the areas as well as provide “seating, cycle parking, greenery, electric charging points and so on”.
The contract description reads: “Parklets are intended for people and offer a place to stop, to sit and to rest while taking in the activities of the street.
“By creating these small public parks from underutilised street space the borough will encourage more people to visit the area by bike and on foot.
“They will increase active travel and exercise amongst those who currently do not regularly use sustainable transport.
“Parklets should be seen as part of a staged approach to making more permanent changes to our streets.”
The proposed locations are not yet clear, although as part of Go Cycle they might be expected to be installed along the scheme routes.
In fact, they might move around the borough; the descriptions refer to five parklets - four “temporary” and one “mobile”, in place for up to six months and one week in a single location respectively.
They will be used to see how streets can be improved, and as the starting point for working out more permanent work to eventually replace them.
A 2015 study by University City District in Philadelphia found suburban parklets to be “highly successful”, even though they were not quite as busy as those in city centres.
People sat to socialise, eat, drink and play games there, and nearby businesses benefited from a boost in sales.
Solo use, like sitting and working with a laptop, was rare apart from at a parklet outside a café.
Users were disproportionately young, but that could have been an exacerbation of the University City demographics.
The report concludes that parklets “will almost inevitably contend with protests over lost parking”, but they stand to give “enormous” benefits to neighbourhoods.
It says: “For modest cost, well-placed parklets can attract huge and diverse crowds, animating sidewalks and bolstering neighbourhood businesses, while truly creating ‘places’ where none existed before.”