If you are in municipal engineering, one of your jobs is designing public parks. Parks are a wonderful place for family and friends to get together, but they can also be dangerous if people aren't careful. By reducing hiding places, improving the lighting and access, and making all areas of the park more visible, you can help to make them safer for everyone. Here are some tips for designing a safer public park.
Handle Areas of Isolation
One of the biggest problems with public parks is that there is too much isolation. Too many areas of parks are completely hidden from the road, where people can hide and create a dangerous scenario for innocent bystanders. The better choice is to have all areas of the park visible by others, which makes everyone feel safer, but this isn't always possible in a natural environment.
Instead, you can create as many visible areas as possible, then create signage for areas of isolation. In areas of the park that are more hidden, put up sides stating there are possible dangers there. That way, people can choose whether or not they feel comfortable entering these areas. Make sure areas of the park people frequent are completely visible, such as the bathrooms and water fountains.
Create a More Coherent Design
People also feel safer and only enter safe areas of a public park when they understand the layout and the design. This is where creating a more coherent design becomes useful. As you design the public park, make sure the layout is understood by anyone that enters the park. This means having entrances and exits on both sides of the park, having pathways that go directly to specific destinations in the park, and providing excellent signage for each area of the park. Adding lighting to the safer areas of the park will guide people to these areas at night.
Provide Safe Access
There should also be easy access to safe parts of the park and alternative routes to bypass potentially threatening areas. If someone is walking through a path and suddenly does not feel comfortable due to a group of people that looks threatening, is there an alternate route she can take to get away from them? This is something to think about when you design different destinations and areas of the park. Provide multiple opportunities for people to avoid things they don't consider safe. To get to safe destinations, people should not have to pass through isolated or hidden areas of the park.
Make it Safer at Night
Also make the public park safer at night, just in case there are activities that go into the nighttime. After installing plenty of lighting, also make sure the pathways used most often by pedestrians are constantly illuminated when the sun goes down. Cluster nighttime activities together so groups of people are in the same area. Make sure recreational buildings are not obstructed or obscured by signage or vegetation.