As the COVID-19 pandemic preys on the stark income, health, and quality of life disparities between neighborhoods, this new reality is shining light on another long-standing disparity: inequitable access to safe public space. For those who live in under-resourced neighborhoods far from parks, in crowded apartments, or on streets with crumbling sidewalks and poor infrastructure, stay-at-home orders can mean exclusion from a safe public realm. And as public sector guidance continues to shift rapidly and vary across the country—with some leaders closing spaces altogether and others deciding to close streets to cars to increase open space—new access issues are arising daily.
On Thursday, May 7, the Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking at Brookings examined the evolving landscape, address what role city leaders and public space managers are playing in ensuring equitable access to safe open space during the pandemic, and discuss what supports are still needed to create a more equitable public realm in the near and long term.
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