Against doorknobs (and beyond)

The website Changing London has an article by Will Horwitz that makes me think about how small things may be changing our cities.

The city of Vancouver has recently banned doorknobs. Yes, doorknobs. New housing developments are required to install levers on doors, instead. When I read the title, I wondered, why on hearth? The point is that I am a young, healthy person. But one day I’ll be old. And I may develop arthritis, and doorknobs may make my life harder than levers.

Doorknobs may be “unnecessary, sometimes crippling, hindrance[s] to everyday life” (from the article).

Now I am sure there’s a multitude of small, apparently obvious things (for a young and healthy person) that may represent “unnecessary, sometimes crippling, hindrances” to some-persons’ everyday lives.

Will Horwitz tells us how there’s both a lot of these hindrances and a lot of small initiatives going on with the aim of fighting them.

Also time matters, and the story of the “gang of pensioners” from the Flushing (Queens, New York) Korean community that have been fighting for spending more time at McDonalds when they have their meals, is revealing. The fast-food wants people to eat… fast, so they leave benches to further customers. The “pensioners gang” need more time, and find McDonalds as the only place where to socialise without spending too much (blessed European cities!). As a result, the manager of the restaurant has been calling 911 several times, with the results we all can imagine.

Ok, whatever we think about McDonalds, it may be not a problem for young, healthy persons to ingest their meals in 20 minutes (no, as a Southern European, I cannot talk about enjoying a meal, in 20 minutes!). But 20 minutes may just not be enough for elderlies.

And contemporary Western cities, are cities of elderlies, every day more and more. And, as planners, as young planners, we have a responsibility on engaging with this issue.

Both around big masterplans and small everyday things.

(Simone Tulumello)

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About Simone Tulumello

Post-doc researcher in Planning and Geography at ULisboa, Institute of Social Sciences. Keen in cities, politics, photography and electronic music. Lover of cities, especially Palermo and Lisbon, in a complicated relationship with Memphis TN.
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