Bollards are booming since the 9/11 bombings in the United States and more recent vehicular terrorism in London (and elsewhere). Bollards and other defensive architecture may protect buildings and sidewalks from vehicles, but they typically don’t encourage people to come enjoy public spaces.
The playgrounds are much more open-ended. They also have riskier, more adventurous elements, like giant tree houses or huge slides. So they attract a much wider age-range. A lot of the playgrounds here are very small. You can’t get high up, which is something people like: giant swings, big spinners, tall slides. There’s a lot of physical stimulation in the environment there. I was seeing people 85 years old going down three-story tall slides. When Grandma is climbing three, four sets of stairs over and over again to go on these slides, you know there’s something special happening.
As Minnesotans know, the end of winter brings green leaves and potholes. Fixing potholes and repairing sidewalks are important Spring tasks, but in the meantime perhaps we might simply enjoy them with The Pothole Gardener.
Right now, Northfield is somewhat kid-friendly if you happen to live in the right neighborhood. My East Side neighborhood is a good place for a kids – say, 10 years old – to independently travel on foot or bike to the library, swimming pool, and parks.Other neighborhoods face bigger obstacles like needing to Highway 3. Walking or biking to school is unsafe for many, even those who live close to schools.
What would a truly child-friendly Northfield look like?
As someone who is only temporarily middle-aged, I’m hoping to live in a place where being old is not made more difficult by my built environment. Northfield might be that place by the time I get old. The Northfield City Council just heard a presentation from a group working for an Age-Friendly Northfield using the AARP Age-Friendly Communities model which could help make our streets, neighborhoods, and human connections better for older people (and younger ones, too – think of the 8-80 idea).
Back in 2013, I posted about a couple of fun urban slides, and here’s another one. The ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture created by Anish Kapoor for the London Olympics in 2012 is going to get funner in 2016 by adding a slide:
Peter Tudor, Director of Visitor Services, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, said: “What more exciting way to descend the ArcelorMittal Orbit than on the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide. We are committed to ensuring our visitors have the best possible day out every time they visit Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and as with all our venues, we are constantly exploring ways to ensure we lead the way with the latest visitor experience. This slide really will give a different perspective of Britain’s tallest sculpture.”
British football fans may soon be able to have more fun than just the game at St. James Park in Newcastle. Slides from the stadium seating 53,000 to the parking area and train station are planned and waiting for approval. Utrecht’s “travel accelerators” got the ball sliding, so to speak, and Newcastle is looking to make the slides part of a pocket park near the stadium. As one of the slide designers noted: “We want people to ride the slide, then go up the stairs and do it again.”