Friday, December 28, 2012

Active Recreation Micropark

 Spring Street Rendering
How do I design an active recreation parklet?
 Parklets are commonly places of passive activity.
However, as small parks, they also provide a unique and
thus far unexplored opportunity to create spaces for
physical exercise. Given the cost of creating large-scale
parks in urban environments, as well as the public and
private costs associated with overweight and obesity, active
recreation parklets could provide a solution to help address
these challenges.

The proposed parklet on Spring Street in Los Angeles
will likely be the first active recreation parklet in the
. The parklet is designed using the same outdoor
fitness equipment found in Los Angeles’ fitness zones (see
description in Chapter 1). Various types of outdoor fitness
equipment are available and can be installed at the
parklet. Equipment used in a parklet should be relatively
compact and intuitive for people to operate. An observed
study of users of fitness zones in Los Angeles found that the
least utilized equipment were the horizontal bars and leg
The installation of fitness equipment in parklets affects
the type of material that can be used for the parklet
platform as well as the minimum equipment clearances.
The proposed Spring Street parklet uses stationary bicycles.
According to the design plans, the platform will be
constructed of pre-cast concrete pavers; thus, the exercise
machines will be bolted into the roadbed rather than on top
of the platform. The landscaping will extend from the seating
area into the exercise area in order to link these two areas
together. The bench in the middle will be situated slightly
away from the machine to allow for proper clearances.
Designers should check with equipment companies to
select the type of fitness machines and incorporate the
appropriate clearances into the site design.


Rendering for active parklet to be installed on Spring Street, in Downtown Los Angeles. Credit: Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council


UPDATE Feb 2013... The nation  first active recreation parklet is now open...
The "active" parklet contains a foosball table. The other contains a bar. (Sam Lubell / AN)
The “active” parklet contains a foosball table. The other contains a bar. (Sam Lubell / AN)
Yes, there is foosball. (Siobhan Burke)
Yes, there is foosball. (Siobhan Burke)
Enjoying one of the parklet's exercise bikes. (Siobhan Burke)
Enjoying one of the parklet’s exercise bikes. (Siobhan Burke)


Note the fun  swing seats in this LA parklet

L.A.'s Parklets Have Gotten Quite Fancy
Christine Kim/Secret Agent PR

To understand a city’s character, look no further than its parklets (which, as you know by now, are those mini–urban parks that replace parking spots with public amenities). San Francisco will never say no to a potential hack—witness Rebar’s awesome but ill-fated parklet made from a sliced Citro├źn cycling van—and Los Angeles will turn just about anything into a workout. With the opening last week of two new parklets on Spring Street in downtown L.A., passersby who regret downing that entire venti mochaccino can hop on one of the parklets’ two exercise bikes and people-watch while squeezing in a few minutes of cardio. Their bored companions can try a hand at the foosball table or just text from one of the nifty swing-style seats. Sure beats idling in a car! Read more.
Spring Street Parklets Downtown LA
The new parklets are an initiative of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Complete Streets Working Group, which collaborated with city council, city planners, the local business improvement district, and AHBE Landscape Architects to transform two parking spots into a mini-playground for pedestrians. With some pro-bono help from Hensel Phelps, these urban patios warm up the streetscape with wood deck tiles, modular pavers, perforated-steel guardrails, and custom wood planters.

Fitness Zone

This toolkit discusses not only parklets as places for
passive enjoyment (intended for people to sit, relax and
socialize), but also parklets as public spaces for active
recreation. A leader in the movement for public spaces
for active recreation in the Los Angeles region, the Trust
for Public Land began their “Fitness Zones” program in
2005 with funding from the Kaiser Permanente Foundation.
These fitness zones are outdoor gyms that contain exercise
equipment machines and are located within public parks.
The goal of the Fitness Zones program is to:
“Create a fun, accessible, and social environment
where people can enjoy getting fit. We know that
just getting outdoors makes people healthier and
happier. Fitness Zones take that one step further by
giving people free access to top-quality exercise
equipment suitable for all levels of fitness.”13
The process, from planning to installation of a fitness
zone, provides lessons relevant to installing parklets in
Los Angeles. For each project, the Trust for Public Land
works with a community partner to select a park location.
Selection is based on local need, demonstrated by limited
park space and a sizable local population representing

a variety of park users and potential users. After the park
is selected, the Trust for Public Land works closely with the
Los Angeles County Recreation and Parks Department to
select a particular place within the park. Selection criteria
include site visibility and shade. The Trust for Public Land then
hires a contractor to install the exercise machines at the
selected site, and gifts the machines to the Recreation and
Parks Department that is responsible for their maintenance.
The Recreation and Parks Department also holds liability
insurance for the fitness zones.
Each fitness zone costs approximately $45,000.
Costs include six to eight pieces of exercise equipment,
installation, and staff time for permitting and agency
coordination. As of June 2012, fitness zones were located
in 29 different parks in Los Angeles County. By the end of
August 2012, it is expected that 42 LA County parks will
contain fitness zones.
Researchers evaluated the fitness zones in 12 parks
and found that park use had increased in half of the parks
since the installation of a fitness zone.14 They also found a
correlation between the presence of a fitness zone and
elevated levels of exercise in a park, not only among
users of the fitness zone but also in other parts of the park.
Researchers speculate that seeing people on exercise
equipment encourages others to be more physically active.


Also see:

Sidewalk Outdoor Exercise Equipment

Transforming Bike Share Docking Stations into Community Recreation Stations


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

If we own it, we loan it -Transforming Chelsea's public spaces into Micro Bryant Parks

"If we own it, we loan it."
 " Our motto is, "If we own it, we loan it." Rutgers Recreation has all the racquets, balls, eyeguards, and outdoor gear you need either free of charge, or for a very low fee. Come join us today and let us help you get into shape and live a healthy lifestyle.-Rutgers University"

Bryant Park is one of  my favorite park in the Chelsea area. The reason is because it has a lot of different activities and  you can loan active, passive and social recreation equipment. Most Chelsea active recreation  parks have between 1 and 3  activities and you can't loan any equipment. Our passive recreation parks mostly offer ZERO  activities outside of sitting, talking,  reading and eating.How can we create the big budget  feel of Bryant Park  in Chelsea's parks without the big budget Bryant park has?

Creating Our own Low Cost Bryant Parks!

Bryant Park has a budget of over $2.6 million  a year. Most community parks don't even have a fraction of this budget. That doesn't mean you can't create a space almost as good at a fraction of the cost. Here's how through the creation of Play-Fi Hotspots.

 What's a Play-Fi Hotspot?

Chelsea has recently attained the status of being the nations first WiFi enabled neighborhood. From Gansevoort Street and West 19th Street from Eighth Avenue to the West Side Highway it's now all a Hotspot.

In a similar vein Park Chelsea  would like to see Play-Fi Recreation hotspots placed throughout  the Chelsea area.

A Play-Fi hot spot will  offer a variety of active and social recreation activities. Here how  to create a Play-Fi hotspot:

 -A Recreation Cabinet is  a cabinet containing  active, passive and social recreation equipment that will be available  to use at a Play-Fi enabled location.

Recreation cabinet -Community Organized storage cabinet for recreation items

Here's what we're looking for :
 -standard cabinets, high grade plastic  to last for years
 - a permanent installation at site
--ability to be locked for installations not in a gated environment
 -waterproof doors for inclement weather
-  self service, useable  without supervision on site.


Around $200 buys a  plastic OUTDOORS storage cabinet link

Stocking The Recreation cabinet

A pre school  needs  differ from  a senior center's, so every one will stock different items. here's some ideas...

Possibilities (and costs)
Hula Hoop: 11.00
Jump Rope:$3.66
Power Bands:14.99
Squeeze ball:$12.00
Foam Hand Exercise Grip Fitness And Strength Builder $3.98
Travel Scrabble:$22.00
Chess set:$25.00
Soap Bubbles big:6.00
Video Games
Graphic Novels
 Recreation Books (,New Games, Sidewalk Games,Nancersize )
Lego Blocks:

Gardening implements

The cabinet will not only be stocked by the facility management, but more importantly Community members will be able to add items to it. 

 This attractive bench..

.Step2 Outdoor Storage Bench

doubles as recreation equipment storage!

 Toy Storage - Outdoor Storage Bench

Add some attractive seating to your yard while reducing clutter with this handy outdoor storage bench. The Step2 bench provides comfortable seating with back support for 2 adults. Then just open the lid to access the roomy 5 cu. ft. storage area inside. It's the perfect place to store lawn furniture, cushions, game equipment, toys, pool and garden equipment and more

Eden Garden Bench seats 2, lockable

These stackable containers can be filled with books or playthings, and placed on the ground, tables or benches


To move them around they can easily be stacked on this low cost device


Mobile Toy BoxA moveable toy bin

This would hold playthings on the bottom and books on top, creating a combines Read-Fi, Play-Fi hotspot that can be moved from indoors to outdoors. 
movable library cart for kid's playroom! by Miriam Zeilmannlink

Discouraging Equipment Theft

In Germany Ping Pong table paddles and balls are left outdoors on the table and are not stolen. Will leaving the locker open here work? I don't know but perhaps someone is will to try this here. Here are more secure ideas...

-Some spaces such as Bob's Park, Alices Garden, Astros Dog Run,Bird Park,  Clinton Community Garden are locked spaces.  The Lotus Garden on the Upper West Side  is a locked space that has had people steal flowers, so having a space locked is not a perfect solution, but hopefully this minimizes equipment loss

-Spaces like Herald Square park and Greeley Square Park have staff handing out tourist information. Why not have these same folks hand out recreation equipment?

-The High Line, Westside Community Garden  and Hudson River Park are all open spaces that  have members. Why not give Recreation Cabinet  keys to members as one of the perks of membership?

-Two of Hell's Kitchen City Parks (De Witt Clinton and Hell's Kitchen)  have recreation rangers in July/Aug  who loan  equipment. They can be Recreation cabinet  keepers for these months. 

Yes, some losses will occur.
- Budget several hundred dollars every year   for replacing items .
- Hold a "Stock theRecreation Cabinet " Community Get Together  Event  every year. Cost of admission-an item to stock the cabinet   with. 

Encouraging Equipment Theft

In the building complex  where I live there are cabinets in our laundry rooms  that are  used for book and magazine exchange . You can leave items there and take items from there. And you can take a magazine from it to read while you do your laundry.

This idea is to create a neighborhood item exchange  cabinet in public spaces where people from different buildings in the neighborhood can leave items like magazines and book,   and electronic equipment that they're no longer using so that other neighbors can then give these items a Second Life.

Given that this cabinet will constantly be restocked with new items it will encourage people to use the park on a regular basis to both bring items and take them.

Honor System

Thousands of Little Free Libraries work on the Honor system

About the Little Library

A project of the East Lake Schools Coalition, the East Lake Little Library is a path of mini libraries located throughout the Community of East Lake. The library is free for all to use. We operate on the honor system and only ask that if you borrow a book please return the book. Or feel free to add a book to the library. We want to make sure that everyone who wants to is able to enjoy the free library.The library has no operating funds. Maintenance and upkeep of each Little Library is taken care of by volunteer library stewards. We rely on borrowers to return their books and on book donations.

The East Lake Little Library is a part of a global movement. To learn more or to find other little libraries in Atlanta or around the world, visit the
Little Free Library web site.

Swaps Library

Most of these libraries remain unlocked. Anyone can come and take away a book to read or a DVD to watch but they must be replaced by another item thereby keeping the stock ever replenished. The books, magazines, DVDs, and cassettes itself are donated by the villagers.
“The most fantastic thing about the Adopt A Kiosk scheme has been how communities across the country have become involved. Red phone boxes have become a focal point for all sorts of activities of real value to the local community. It's so gratifying to see our old rarely used boxes given a new lease of life”, says BT.


Add a Seeking Activities Partners Bulletin Board to the Site

Bryant Park supplies a recreation person in the board games area who will play if you come on your own. Most parks/community gardens  can't supply this. The activities partners bulletin board serves as  a low cost substitute  for finding a activities partner.  Be it chess, poker ,  scrabble or ???, you'll be able to connect with  neighbors who you would never have otherwise known shared your interests  through the use of this activities Partners bulletin board.

Quartet® Bulletin Boards Aluminum Frame Cork Board; 48x36" $39.99 link 

  -Moveable seats

Tables with Moveable seats  make card games/Chess games / board game playing possible and make conversations so much easier . .  link
More Ideas to create Play-Fi Hotspots

Sidewalk games link      and labyrinth

Park Bench Excercise: Nancercize

 Community gardening link

Fitness Zone

Fitness trails

 Outdoor Foosball A little over $1,000 get this piece of equipment 

For around $4,000 (including delivery) you can buy an outdoor  table tennis  table, just like the one Bryant Park has. For more protected spaces one can be had for under $1,000.


A Park for All Seasons: Bryant Park

A Park for All Seasons: Bryant Park
I was at Bryant Park talking to one of the staff who runs the board games area. They said they get a lot of people from Hell's Kitchen which surprised me. He said the reason was that there is nothing to do in Hells Kitchens Parks.  I've surveyed all the activities in these parks  and  he's right, there are only a very limited number of  active, passive or social recreational activities  for adults in most of Hell's Kitchens Parks and other open spaces. And as it turns out the same goes for Chelsea's parks and other open spaces.

Here's the Activities in Bryant Park

Bryant Park Recreation Activities

Reading Room at Bryant Park


Chess players
Table Tennis

Ice Skating


Bryant park games are stored in this locker

Creating Our own Low Cost Bryant Parks

Bryant Park is the most well rounded park in the area. It offers a mix of active, passive, group,  social, solitary and 2 person recreational activities. However in 2000 the budget for Bryant Park was $2.9 million dollars, so it takes a lot of money for Bryant Park to be Bryant Park. 

  Is it possible to create a Bryant Park like experience for our community without the Bryant Park Budget?  for the answer see 
  If we own it, we loan it

Chelsea Botanical Garden

I was scouting near Chelsea the other day, and happened to walk through one of my all-time favorite green spaces in the city: West 28th Street between 6th & 7th Avenues.
To properly start the journey into the jungles of West 28th Street, begin on 6th Avenue just south of the McDonalds. There, you’ll find the sidewalk lined on both sides with six-foot tall walls of green flora for sale. Hang a left onto West 28th Street…
…and this amazing green passageway through our busy metropolis continues…
…and continues…
…and continues.

Chelsea Gardens trail Madison -Hudson River
 West 26th Street -29tth Streets Hudson River park nature Area
West 26tg-West 28th Streets StairClimb to High Line
 West 28th 8th-9th Avenues Penn South Gardens

 West 28th Street 6th 7th avenues Chelsea Botanical Garden
 7 E 28th Street Madison Belevedere park

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Senior Shopping and Walking Trails

Seniors  Shopping and Walking  Trails

 Benches are very important for them to be able to walk farther distances and to be able to be outside near their homes.

 -Summary of Findings :Creating an Age Friendly NY One Neighborhood at a Time 

Chelsea seniors need places to sit on our streets to be able to walk further and  more easily do their shopping. 

I live on 25th and 8th ave. I have a neighbor who doesn't shop at the supermarket next to where we live, because of the high prices. Instead she goes to the NSA supermarket on 28th and 9th where the prices are better. She has a great deal of trouble walking and needs a walker to get there. It has no seat. She sits at the bus stop bench at 28th and 9th to rest on her journey. This bench is the only sidewalk seating between where she lives and the NSA.

Another older  neighbor who has trouble walking  lives on 26th and 9th and  shops at Western Beef on West 16th off 9th Avenue.  She uses her shopping cart for stability  and the benches between 26th and 16th street to rest on her journey there and back. Her daughter told me there are long stretches with no place to sit.

Another of my neighbors shops at the Trader Joes on 6th at 21st. I'd seen her walking home down 23rd st  with two heavy bags and no place to rest.

To solve this problem and make it easier for seniors to shop/walk in Chelsea, benches have been added to key thoroughfares, turning them into Shopping/walking  trails for seniors.

9th Ave is an important senior throughfare with Western Beef, the  Fulton Senior Center, the  Elliott Chelea Norc ,  Penn South Norc ,  Penn South Senior Center,abd the NSA Supermarket  all located   on it. You'll now find  6 Citybenches have been installed on the west side of the street.

On 6th you'll find Fairway and Trader Joes,   3 Citybenches have been installed on the east side of 6th Ave.

23rd St is Chelsea's main east west throughfare. Here you'll find 5 new Citybenches have been isntalled.

 More seating is needed to enhance these new Senior shopping/walking trails. Ideally  there should be a bench on every north south  Shopping trail   and 2-3  benches on each east west shopping trail.  You can  request a bench at

The  Moonstruck Bench at 9th Ave and 23rd streets is at an important seating  location for Chelsea seniors traveling to the Fulton Senior center.   Merle Levine who goes to the center regularly told us that while waiting for the 9th Ave bus to go to the center, there was no place for seniors  to sit at this bus stop.

 As  I walked past the new Moonstruck bench, I noticed an older woman walking in the opposite direction. I thought "here's a person that can use this bench" Sure enough she and her companion had a seat there.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Park Chelsea's Age-Friendly Sidewalk Parks

“We did an inventory of our streets early on, and found that New York was largely a city without seats,” she said. “You’d see people perched on fire hydrants. That’s not exactly the mark of a world-class city. It’s not good for families. It’s not good for seniors. It’s not good for anyone.” - -Janette Sadik-Khan

 These photos show the state of public seating in the Chelsea of Yesterday
Seating on  on the High Line

Seniors  " care about benches, trees, gardens and open space closest to where they live. Big parks are for occasional visits in most cases.
  Creating an Age Friendly NY One Neighborhood at a Time 

As the people at Age-Friendly NYC found , seniors care most about seating closest to where they live. When you  have trouble walking seating on the  High Line could just as well be located in Pittsburgh, for all the good it will do. 

To help alleviate this problem Park Chelsea created its "A Seat Near Every Street" campaign to place "Sidewalk Parks"(aka Citybenches)  through out Chelsea in locations where seniors would actually have use of them.

In late December 2012 nine  Sidewalk Parks  were installed in Chelsea.

Park Chelsea Newest Sidewalk Parks
A Chelsea spot with a great garden is the Hampton Inn.The location had no seating to enable guests or neighbors to sit and enjoy the garden. 

A Citybench has been installed . Now both guests and Chelsea neighbors can enjoy the Hamptons Inn Sidewalk Park  24th St @ 6th Ave

The Desmond Tutu Center has this great garden, that's not open to the public

Tutu Center Sidewalk Park   10th @20th Street
A Citybench has now been installed  allowing  passerby to sit and really enjoy the spot rather then just having to walk by it.

 Limelight  6th @21st

The Limelight was a Church transformed into Discotheque transformed into shopping mall. The Limelight Sidewalk Park  has a great view of the Limeliight, And is a convenient rest stop for seniors shopping at the Trader Joes across the street.

The Clearview Sidewalk Park 23rd @8th Ave

The creation of a Sidewalk Park between the two gardens in front of the Clearview Cinema offers restful viewing of these great gardens by folks either waiting for the bus, or just passing by. For a movie schedule click here

Eyebench  21st near 11th Ave

Eyebeam is where "art Meets Technology" .

The Eyebench Sidewalk Park has recently been moved, from the curb to against the building, and Eyebeam  has recently been painted gold.  It's interesting that  the artists who painted Eyebeam included the Eyebench Sidewalk Park in their work.

9th Avenue& 23rd Street  Seniors Walking Trail Benches
We're developing walking trails for fitness  through Chelsea. These four  newly installed benches are an integral part of the 9th Avenue Senior walking trail

 Seen here is Merle Levine  who suggested that there should be a bench in front of the Fulton center at 119 9th Ave. This location is the where Chelsea's first Citybench was installed. For the Fulton centers Monthly Calender of Events click here.

Add caption

Sidewalk Park  9th Ave @24th Street 

Rita Lopez one of the founders of Park Chelsea chose this spot for a Sidewalk Park so that her friend Speros could sit while he waited for the 9th Ave bus to take him home. Now this bench is not only used while waiting for the bus, it , along with the Fulton Center Sidewalk Park, are helping to create a 9th Avenue Seniors Walking/Shopping Trail  allowing seniors to rest while on their way to the Fulton Senior Center or while going to shop at Western Beef/NSA Supermarkets.

Update:May 2013
Chelsea now has 12 Sidewalk Parks at 11 locations

 Maritime Sidewalk Park 

  At the NE corner of  16th St and 9th Ave is the Maritime Sidewalk Park. This Sidewalk Park has Wi-Fi, Seat Fi and given that it is adjacent to the 16st Greenstreets plot with trees but no plantings, we'd hope that some group sees the potential of it becoming    a Green-Fi Community Garden Hotspot. (Seating at this sidewalk park was removed when the green space was privatized)

The  Moonstruck Sidewalk Park at 9th Ave and 23rd streets is at an important seating  location for Chelsea seniors traveling to the Fulton Senior center.   Merle Levine who goes to the center regularly told us that while waiting for the 9th Ave bus to go to the center, there was no place for seniors  to sit at this bus stop.

 As  I walked past the new Moonstruck Sidewalk Park, I noticed an older woman walking in the opposite direction. I thought "here's a person that can use this bench" Sure enough she and her companion had a seat there.

PC Richard's Sidewalk Park on 23rd Street

New in June

This bench at the Muhlenberg Library increase the libraries seating capacity and offers an outdoor reading room to library patrons (moved to Crunch Gym)


Coming Soon: Sidewalk Park to "Far North Chelsea"

Thanks to the efforts of our  colleague Christine Berthet a resident of Chelsea's northern neighbor Hell's Kitchen. 8 Sidewalk Park locations have now (Jan 10) been approved for the area.. According to Christine:

Here is the list of proposed bench locations that will be recommended   at the next CB4 Transportation Committee ( Dec 19th)  You will note that there are no proposed bench on 9th Avenue or on side streets where the sidewalks are too narrow. Let us know if you have other suggestions or concerns  with the proposed locations.
  1. 601 10th Avenue
  2. 645 10th Avenue
  3. 657 10th Avenue
  4. 665 10th avenue
  5.  701 10th Avenue
  6.  735 10th Avenue
  7. 662 10th Avenue
  8. 646 10th Avenue
Shouldn’t our seniors be able to walk, then sit for FREE on our public sidewalks rather than having to pay in order to sit and rest? link

Posted: Apr 20, 2013 06:03 pm
We received wonderful pictures and note from Richard Kent Green:
“Attached and below, please find photos of the benches on 10th Ave, between 45th and 46th Streets, which, as you see, are constantly being enjoyed when the weather’s nice . There’s a serendipitous nature to the placement…one image004
is on the sidewalk in front of the Ryan Clinic, the other is in front of the Thriftway Pharmacy across the street. One can wait for a family member in the fresh air outside the clinic, then wait across the avenue, in the sun, for them to get their prescription filled at the drug store! (or the laundry is drying at the laundromat.”  read more

  Help Create an Age-Friendly Chelsea
 Seats on Our Streets

NYC is installing over 1000 Sidewalk Parks(aka Citybenches)  through the city. If you know of a good location for a bench you can request one here.