Taking It To the Streets!: UD, Women, & Urban Planning Team Up

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It's Universal Design Tsunami Round 3 and you can see it playing out in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Round 1 was the Disability Rights Movement when Ron Mace and friends invented Universal Design.

Round 2 was the institutionalization of Universal Design in legal documents representing people with disabilities and seniors. It saw the mainstreaming of Universal Design in efforts by Adaptive Environments and AARP to extend the seven principles beyond disability culture to be synonymous with "good design" and "active aging."

Round 3 is the application of Universal Design on a macro scale in movements like Liveable Communities, Senior-Friendly Cities, and Inclusive Destination Development.

PHILADELPHIA — Chunks of the sidewalk behind the 16th Police District building off Lancaster Avenue are so torn up that mothers pushing strollers and women in wheelchairs can't negotiate the jumbled concrete slabs without venturing into the street.

Many then must climb a flight of stairs to get to the front door of the old row houses in west Philadelphia. If kitchens are on the second floor, they lug groceries, canes or strollers up another flight of stairs. All along the way, they fear crime.

"There are some areas that aren't well lit at all," says Blaine Straub, 25, who lives near Lancaster Avenue and had to get around in a wheelchair after she broke her ankle in October. "That's a little intimidating."

In a neighborhood where 54% of the residents are women, 70% of the households are headed by women and 70% of the elderly are women, the broken walkway on North Sloan Street symbolizes some of the physical challenges that women in America's cities face: an unsafe urban environment that's not conducive to walking.

Says Haya El Nasser in USA Today:

Medical experts, concerned about increased rates of obesity, diabetes and hypertension, have studied how the design of cities affects health for some time. Now, they're focusing on its impact on an increasingly prominent demographic segment of the urban landscape: women.

PHILADELPHIA — Chunks of the sidewalk behind the 16th Police District building off Lancaster Avenue are so torn up that mothers pushing strollers and women in wheelchairs can't negotiate the jumbled concrete slabs without venturing into the street.

Many then must climb a flight of stairs to get to the front door of the old row houses in west Philadelphia. If kitchens are on the second floor, they lug groceries, canes or strollers up another flight of stairs. All along the way, they fear crime.

"There are some areas that aren't well lit at all," says Blaine Straub, 25, who lives near Lancaster Avenue and had to get around in a wheelchair after she broke her ankle in October. "That's a little intimidating."

In a neighborhood where 54% of the residents are women, 70% of the households are headed by women and 70% of the elderly are women, the broken walkway on North Sloan Street symbolizes some of the physical challenges that women in America's cities face: an unsafe urban environment that's not conducive to walking.

For more:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-12-25-Designingwomen_N.htm

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