The Carbon Efficient City briefly surveys a few ways children, adolescents, and adults have distinct needs for urban open space. Elderly people have yet another set of needs in open space, depending on various challenges they may face with mobility, memory, and perception. In addition to the other advantages discussed in this week’s readings, walkable communities can allow elderly people continued independence as they lose their vision and are no longer able to drive. Living in vibrant communities with a diversity of ages can also be uplifting for the elderly and educational for children.
In that vein, there is a fascinating body of research on the role of public spaces in the mixing of ethic or cultural groups and how different groups have differing public space needs. For example, some cultural groups may use parks exclusively for rowdy family gatherings, while other groups only use dog parks. It’s important for people creating park systems to think about these differing sets of needs, which may conflict, overlap, or require special amenities. All of these differing styles of public space use should be accommodated in our park system to encourage vibrant, healthy density.