June 22, 2023

Designing public spaces and events with safety in mind

Darkhorse Press

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite: https://www.pexels.com/photo/dog-running-on-wooden-dock-followed-by-three-woman-near-trees-139922/

By Emily Graham
Special to Darkhorse Press

Have you ever heard the expression, “When you have your health, you have everything?” The same applies to your physical safety. That makes it a vital aspect of any space you might visit. When designing shared community spaces, safety considerations should be incorporated in line with the ways that the space will be used. Read on for some ideas on how to do so.

Uses for Community Spaces 

You and your community might create a space specifically for your community’s interests or leave an open area that allows users to enjoy it as they please. This could be an area for physical activity, where members can position yoga mats and get in touch with nature or their spirituality. Perhaps, as the National Recreation and Park Association notes, you and other community members can turn the space into an outdoor gym.

Users who like to read can position patio chairs or other seating in this space to get lost in books while they enjoy the benefits of nature. Visitors could situate a few potted plants or grow a garden there, which, as Healthier Steps points out, could enable the community to benefit from fresh vegetables and their many health advantages.

This shared space could also provide an ideal venue for local networking. When using the space for this purpose, you’ll want to keep the feel of the event lighthearted to enable people to loosen up and enjoy this time mingling. When you can be yourself,  anyone you connect with will feel more at ease. Avoid being cornered by positioning yourself in areas where you can escape an uncomfortable situation, and try not to corner anyone else and put them in a predicament where they feel pressured into speaking to you.

If you’re going to allow pets in the public space, designate an area for them and encourage people to clean up after their four-legged friends.

Ensuring Physical Safety 

If your business is located in an area with a high walk score, which is a way of judging a neighborhood’s walkability, then public safety is especially important. Pedestrians are more likely to be walking near your business, and they may not be paying attention to their surroundings.

As a result, it’s important to make sure that your business has no potential hazards in the area. Additionally, you should consider hiring security guards or posting signs warning pedestrians of potential dangers. By taking these precautions, you can help ensure that everyone stays safe near your business.

After determining a use or understanding the ways that a space might be used, you’ll want to ensure that it’s a physically safe area for everyone. Purchase dirt to fill in any holes or level any uneven areas to prevent falls. Place a garbage can somewhere in the area to prevent litter. This helps you create a clean, healthy environment for the community, including the creatures that venture through. You can also make sanitation supplies available, such as a hand sanitizer dispenser, to help prevent the spread of germs when people are using the area together.

Don’t Forget the Lighting 

Day or night, people will often follow the best-lighted route — on and off the road — to help ensure their personal safety. At night, when it’s more difficult to see, people are at greater risk of falling. In parking lots, dim lighting conditions can lead to accidents. That’s why you must properly light the community space. If you’re selecting a parking lot light pole, opt for choices that have durable poles and bases. Popular material options include steel and aluminum, which will hold up over time.

A Safe, Fun Space for All 

By taking steps to create a flat, level area that’s well-lit, tidy, clean, and practical, you and other community members can build connections while safely enjoying a shared space.

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