Sitting at a curbside cafe in NYC.Photo: NYC Department of TransportationThe New York City Department of Transportation is going to make it easier for you to park your rear end at a sidewalk café by taking away a bit of parking for cars.

The NYC DOT has announced a two-year pilot program that would allow “pop-up cafés” in the curbside spots near restaurants where the sidewalk is too narrow for conventional outdoor seating. It’s like an extended and improved variation on the annual PARK(ing) Day observed in cities around the country.

From the DOT press release:

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Pop-up Cafés provide outdoor public seating in the curb lane during the warm months and promote local businesses. Such cafés are popular in Europe, where narrow sidewalks prevent sidewalk cafés, and have recently been established in California and Canada.

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In the summer of 2010, DOT partnered with two Lower Manhattan restaurants to pilot the city’s first Pop-up Café. Building on this success, DOT is expanding the Program in 2011 by partnering with restaurants or cafés in up to 12 locations throughout the five boroughs.

Participating restaurants will have to hire an architect to design the spaces, but the DOT will help with safety measures in the roadway.

Considering how incensed New York drivers can get when their parking spaces are tampered with, this is pretty radical stuff. But this is a DOT that has calmly and steadily moved forward to reclaim space for pedestrians from automobiles, no matter how loud the shouting. Next summer, you’ll be able to drink to that — from the curb lane.

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