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Design cities with women in mind

(45 Posts)
noblegiraffe Wed 21-Dec-16 18:52:04

Interesting article here about how changes to public planning by considering the needs of women can improve safety and increase revenue:

www.citymetric.com/politics/what-works-men-doesn-t-work-everyone-why-cities-need-start-planning-women-mind-2123

The bit about splitting up playgrounds to give girls a space was interesting. I vividly remember the playground at primary school being given over to boys playing football while girls hung around the fringes trying to find space for skipping.

QueenOfTheSardines Wed 21-Dec-16 19:35:49

I think that all of this is good stuff and enjoyed reading the article. It is very true that pretty much everything has been arranged for the convenience of "default man" who is able-bodied, tallish, and unencumbered.

It is true that cities, towns etc are for all of us and need to consider the different needs of the different people using them in different ways - teh elderly, pregnant women and parents with little kids, pushchairs, people with disabilities, people who are more wary of unlit streets etc.

It reminds me of the crash test dummies all being male, with only some female ones in the passenger seat (I think it was) and the % of injuries being so so much higher for women in collisions than men. This stuff is not trivial.

Another one is public transport - I'm hardly short at 5'3 but I can't reach the handrails!

So I'm in favour of this and while you always get the macho types saying "pregnancy isn't a disability! wear 3 slings! my granny was running marathons in the dark at 86! " etc etc I think it is good to give this stuff consideration to end up with space that we share that is as suitable as possible for everyone and doesn't leave people dropping away from going out etc as it's a hostile experience.

More greenery and so on is good for people too smile

QueenOfTheSardines Wed 21-Dec-16 19:37:56

Should say on my commuter train I can't reach the handrails - not on all public transport ever!

Those slopy seat things at the bus stop and on teh tube are also too high for my arse and therefore lots of children, elderly women etc etc

Putting stuff in the overhead racks - is another.

Trains in particular seem to assume that everyone is over about 5'6 I reckon.

user1475253854 Wed 21-Dec-16 23:47:33

There was a woman on Woman's Hour when they were talking about women in public spaces saying that when they design new buildings/spaces etc, they only ask disabled people towards the end so they can only make minimal changes and so it's not really all that accessible. I've worded that really badly I know, but it's late and I don't know how the process works so please forgive me.

PhoenixJasmine Wed 21-Dec-16 23:53:39

I often comment "the world isn't designed for short people" but honestly at 5ft2 my height is hardly unusually small for a woman. Really, the world is designed for men.

MotherFuckingChainsaw Thu 22-Dec-16 00:00:13

the world isn't designed for short people

Yup that's my catchphrase

Then I add

'Except airline seats'

KickAssAngel Thu 22-Dec-16 00:09:17

Really, if we want an inclusive world, we should design around people that face the most difficulties, and assume that the more able will be able to adapt. e.g. have seats/handrails lower so that more people can use them. A few taller people may need to bend their knees more, and the really tall may need a few seats that are higher, but most of us would barely notice.

Toilets - there should be 2 female toilets for each male as women need them more than men. There should be several big enough for people with wheelchairs/pushchairs etc. Ideally there would be separate 'rooms' with sink etc which is gender neutral so everyone gets complete privacy & enough space.

Pavements & shop aisles should allow for 2 pushchairs/wheelchairs to be able to pass each other.

If you think abut the stereotype that women do 'most' of the shopping (and they often do) then it's ridiculous that the biggest customer base isn't catered for as the default setting when designing a space like a city center.

user1475253854 Thu 22-Dec-16 00:17:59

That's true KickAss. A disabled person can't use a non-disabled toilet but able-bodied people can use both, so we should build them according to those with greater needs.

amispartacus Thu 22-Dec-16 10:18:40

This is interesting - it's about designing cars etc for older people who struggle with movement, sight etc.

www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/mar/31/age-simulation-suit-students-london-university-elderly-people

But I do think the better idea is 'having a chat with people' to see what their issues are and how they can be addressed.

Miffer Thu 22-Dec-16 10:21:51

The bit about splitting up playgrounds to give girls a space was interesting.

My sons primary school banned football on the play ground. I didn't really care or question it at the time so I am not sure why. I wonder if this was why?

amispartacus Thu 22-Dec-16 10:26:33

I think splitting up boys and girls is not a good thing as it reinforces expectations of difference - there will be boys who don't want the 'boisterous' area and girls who do want the boisterous area.

An active area and a less active one might be better.

redexpat Thu 22-Dec-16 10:38:24

There was a discussion on here recently about toilet cubicles and how the sanitary bin is always chucked in as an afterthought and takes up space, sometimes making it v difficult to get in and out.

Im going to post that article on another thread that Ive seen asking what is feminism.

OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Thu 22-Dec-16 12:25:23

It astounds me how poorly public toilets are designed - yes to the sitting on the sanitary bin issue (when you could just have the toilet just off centre and avoid the whole issue) but even worse than that I've seen disabled toilet where the doors open inwards and then you can't close the door if there's a wheelchair in the toilet. Utterly absurd.

Similarly a large proportion of bus users are older and more frail, yet the newly designed bus shelters have those awful hover seats where you can't properly sit down plus they're frequently too high.

BiscuitCapitalOfTheWorld Thu 22-Dec-16 13:48:19

When I was younger I went to visit a friend in Japan. I was surprised,at how much more comfortable everything was- everything was slightly smaller. From,public transport to furniture to kitchen counters. It just suddenly seemed "me-sized".

Equally, once joined a women only gym that has]d imported exercise machines for women from the US. So it was easy to reach all the handles/levers, you didn't need to stand up at the end of a rep cos the handle,went a bit too high for you to reach if you stayed sitting,down.

These things make more of a difference than you realise.

BiscuitCapitalOfTheWorld Thu 22-Dec-16 13:49:24

And it wasn't. Curves, I wouldn't go near the anti-women-ban-abortion-funding-bastards.

CryingShame Thu 22-Dec-16 14:01:42

The hover seats at bus stops are to stop the homeless sleeping on them, so another example of the vulnerable being designed out of a space. sad

AyeAmarok Thu 22-Dec-16 14:39:19

That article really highlights why the people designing cities, buildings and public spaces need to be more diverse than a group of white, middle aged, able bodied men.

As much as they may think they are considering the needs of others, they can't do it effectively enough.

Backingvocals Thu 22-Dec-16 14:48:13

I must admit it's only now that I don't have 20/20 vision that I wonder why packaging is designed for the (presumably) minority of the population that do.

I find it incredibly frustrating and I only have a fairly mild prescription. It does make me realise how much else I'm missing out on due to being able bodied.

As for cities for women - yes. It's why I get annoyed with the wheelchairs vs pushchairs on buses debate. Of course wheelchairs go first. But why is it women and children who make space, not the rest of the world?

KickAssAngel Thu 22-Dec-16 15:42:07

We once went to a holiday cottage that was advertised as having disability accessibility. The shower was huge, big enough for a wheelchair user and a helper, and space to turn around etc, BUT all the hooks for clothes etc were at the height of an adult standing up.

DH works in accessibility for websites (e.g. making print large, reading out the text etc.) and he says it's really hard to get accessibility right. His company employ people with hearing and sight impairments so that they can really test that things DO work for them. It's almost impossible for a sighted person to actually know for sure if what they've done works for someone with impaired sight. It is actually necessary for the people being designed for to be part of the process, not just given a quick focus group discussion at the end of the process.

PoochSmooch Thu 22-Dec-16 19:43:55

I think it's an interesting point to think about if it's possible to design spaces that are good for all humans when we come in such a variety of shapes and sizes. For example, I'm 6' tall, and I don't think that a lot of the world is designed for me, either. Particularly not seats on aeroplanes, trains and buses, which are never comfortable as I have my height between my belly button and my knees, so they're always jammed up against things. Kitchen cabinets and sinks are generally too low and I have to stoop uncomfortably. Hand driers in public loos are down round my knees. And don't start me on clothes...

So don't assume that if you're tall the world feels comfortable either! Maybe you have to be exactly 5'9"??

QueenOfTheSardines Fri 23-Dec-16 16:58:48

All goes out the window when space is a premium - I agree on my commute I can't reach the handrails but when I sit I'm not crammed in. I think not being able to reach the handrails is silly though I'm 5.3 fgs it's hardly unusually small and it's a bit more dangerous.

Ditto the crash test dummy thing.

It's a mix probably of default man + minimising costs.

KickAssAngel Fri 23-Dec-16 22:11:49

Although space constraints can be a real problem, it doesn't mean that it all goes out the window. Things like the height of seats/handholds in public can be varied.

Accessibility for wheelchairs is hard, because they require quite a bit more space than a single human being, BUT we're talking public spaces, where lots of people are.

e.g near my parents there's a new health center, car park and shops being built, including a physio. It's intended to be used by families, elderly and sick people of the area. They have put in the minimum number of disabled parking spaces. In fact, there could be 8 people needing a disabled parking space at the same time and the doctors could cater for that, but there are only 4 parking spaces for them. So - person with a blue badge drives to their doctor's appt. and then cannot park.

DeepAndCrispAndEvenTheWind Fri 23-Dec-16 22:18:49

Cars are always too big for me and very few phones are easy for me to operate, being too big. And I am 5ft6

reallyanotherone Fri 23-Dec-16 22:25:04

A friends child's school has a "girls only" day for access to the sports field at breaks.

Specifically introduced so it wasn't taken up every break with footballs in every direction.

While i think the idea is on the right track, i do think it should be "no footballs" day, rather than making it a gender issue. There must be girls who like football, and boys who dislike it and would appreciate the space to get away from it.

amispartacus Sat 24-Dec-16 09:22:17

While i think the idea is on the right track, i do think it should be "no footballs" day, rather than making it a gender issue. There must be girls who like football, and boys who dislike it and would appreciate the space to get away from it

This. Otherwise it reinforces the notion that girls do one thing and boys do another.

What if the girls wanted to play football on the sports pitch on the girls only day?

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