More inclusive urban design can help more people access social services and public amenities.
Ishita Gaur describes how urban design can facilitate social services and improve equity in cities. “There are vast inequities in the distribution of healthcare, housing assistance, food accessibility, and educational opportunities, among others. While access to this social infrastructure is to a large extent driven by policy, certain spatial challenges exacerbate the situation—but they don’t have to.”
According to Gaur, “Physical and psychological barriers play a critical role in terms of providing access to vital social services for all. There is a stigma attached to social services, which, often keeps residents from availing of the benefits of such amenities.” Using New York City as an example, Gaur asserts that “The solution lies in creating a network of spaces that New Yorkers can approach for easy and non-judgmental access to the social services they need.”
The city should take this opportunity to not only broaden access to social amenities but also ensure that they are universally inclusive. Designing spaces that are welcoming to people of all income levels, employment statuses, age groups, and gender identities will be key to their success.
Gaur notes that “Inserting social services and amenities inside already welcoming and non-discriminatory spaces can dramatically reduce the perceived barriers that a person might need to overcome in seeking help. New services located at the exterior of these amenities can create a buffer space that receives people while also providing some privacy and anonymity to the individual seeking assistance.” For many people, “Even simple design decisions, such as the presence of a front desk or its location, can dramatically change the experience for an individual.”
As Gaur concludes, creating more inclusive and welcoming public spaces improves the health of cities as a whole. “Creating a healthier city for those most in need leads to a healthier city for all.”
Planetizen’s Top Planning Books of 2023
The world is changing, and planning with it.
Chicago Red Line Extension Could Transform the South Side
The city’s transit agency is undertaking its biggest expansion ever to finally bring rail to the South Side.
More Affordable Housing for People, Less for Cars
Most jurisdictions have off-street parking requirements that increase motorists’ convenience but reduce housing affordability. It’s time to reform these policies for the sake of efficiency and fairness.
Seattle Council Rejects Transportation Impact Fee
Councilmembers who opposed the proposal say the fee would have slowed housing development and raised housing costs.
FHWA Issues Emissions Tracking Rule
The agency will require states to monitor transportation emissions and create plans to address air pollution.
FTA Proposes Measures to Prevent Transit Operator Fatigue
Public transit is the only type of transportation not already subject to ‘hours of service’ and fatigue risk management regulations.
University of New Mexico - School of Architecture & Planning
San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Chaddick Institute at DePaul University
Arizona State University, Ten Across
Park City Municipal Corporation
National Capital Planning Commission
City of Santa Fe, New Mexico
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.