Thursday, May 15, 2008

Livability Indicator #3 - BABIES!!!!!

I went to Copenhagen, Denmark almost two years ago, with the intention of studying the transition that city has undergone over the last fifty years away from car-choked streets towards an increasingly large pedestrian-only network of medieval streets and bike lanes. I proposed the idea of studying Copenhagen for better understanding how American cities, particularly in the Sunbelt and its assortment of ephemeral structures, will reshape themselves in a post-peak oil world. I suggested the only things that we had built to last have been entirely based on the presumption of automobile-perpetuity: parking garages and highways, and questioned what could be (re)made of these things.

(Rush Hour crossing the Poblinge So in Copenhagen)
While over there, however I was quickly struck by the ubiquity of baby strollers. They were everywhere. I couldn't pick up a cobble and throw it without hitting a baby in their cute little round faces, with a rock. I figured either Danes were the most fertile people on the planet or we had discovered a place that was SO livable, which could/should be defined as safe, pleasant, enjoyable, ease of mobility, etc. to the point of being so safe and pleasant, that mothers would raise their babies there and feel comfortable taking them out for daily walks.

Now I'm no parent, nor do I pretend to know how to raise a child, but I'm pretty sure the tough love/learn the hard way on their own methods of teaching don't begin at least until they're...two and can walk without falling on their face every third step. So during the week, I began to chronicle with the trusty camera all of the strollers that I witnessed. Some of which are shown here:

(The last one was actually in Malmo, Sweden and I was taking a picture of the canal and wouldn't you know it? A baby popped into the frame.)

The real point isn't so much about babies, but places that are so livable, so comfortable, that they are open and responsive to the needs of all age groups (cynically called market segments), including the most fragile, i.e. babies. This is why I'm making the presence of baby strollers Livability Indicator #3.

I began to notice a few strollers with Plano soccer moms pop up here and there while on site visits/client tours to our project The Shops at Legacy; also shown here (For some reason RTKL doesn't have a page for it, I'll have to change that). For the most part, these weren't residents of Legacy, they were from surrounding generic suburbs in Plano, merely looking for someplace walkable and pleasant to walk with other moms and babies.

(Legacy Town Center - check out the snow on the garages)

Lastly, since I have lived in downtown Dallas, I have begun to see more and more (going from 0 to a half-dozen makes for astonishing growth percentages). Some of these I made for tourists, but others actually are downtown residents. There are even a few young'ns (pardon my B'more phraseology) in my building, proving that the market for urban living is getting a bit larger than yuppies and empty nesters. We'll see how many more strollers we see when some of these downtown parks finally get built.