Sarah Goodyear doesn’t want us to have fun. She complains fun urban tricks like swings, slides and games are “dangerously beside the point” of making cities safer, cleaner and more livable.
I think this criticism misses the point. Swings and slides are not “design solutions” and I don’t believe they’re intended to solve big city problems. No one is proposing substituting crosswalk pong for better pedestrian design and to make city residents safer on the streets.
Little bits of fun and delight help make the city a better place to live or visit, a better place to advocate for larger/deeper solutions and a better place to connect with other people. Building small scale, small budget fun into the city helps encourage larger cultural climate change which can help create advocates for better design, safer pedestrian facilities, and more livable cities because people want to be there.
For a small city like Northfield where it is almost always more obvious and more convenient to drive, an excuse to get out of the car and play is needed. Playing pong here:
might get a few more people walking and a few of those might think “Let’s fix this stroad so it’s easier, safer and more fun to cross.” Then, maybe one person starts advocating for substantial change.