Monday, May 10, 2010

Benches cruelly designed so you can't lie down on them

There is an old adage that says, "The test of a society is how it treats its elderly." I think that's valid, but I'd like to add an addendum: "And how it designs its furniture."

All humans hate airport chairs with their built-in and immovable armrests, which makes reclining (and comfort) impossible when your flight is delayed for 6 hours.
But there is a more sinister side. In public places, benches are also designed with this back-paining center metal rod in between the seats, that makes reclining or lying down impossible.

First off, outside of airplanes and movie theaters, do we really need armrests? And second, all the benches outside the Arlington Public Library have these separation, which makes it a bitch for homeless people to lie down. Since libraries are a key homeless destination, the benches are obviously intentional, and intentionally rude. It's not like homeless people have a lot going their way already, but now you take away their ability to lie horizontally?

What's next - a gravity tax?


Dianna said...

A "key homeless destination"? Can you please, oh, please, make a brochure for that one?

Beth M. said...

I think this is a Virginia thing. Here in DC we just lie on the street.

shesthesheriff said...

Pretty lame. Here's an interesting article about the criminalization of homelessness as well as alternatives-worth a read

Many of these cites try to hide their homeless problem to increase tourism. Never made sense to me-people have always flocked to our major cities, as well as international cities, that are filled with homeless people. I will say that I've heard a handful of people in my lifetime say they didn't want to go New York because of 'all the homeless people' but I always got the feeling they wouldn't have gone anyway. And thats a small segment of the population. So these municipalities end up spending millions extra per year to police and incarcerate people for what? To make the city look a little nicer so maybe local businesses can get some of those millions back?

sheisfinallywriting said...

The other downside to linked benches, is when you are sharing said bench with the person who has restless leg syndrome or is just a nervous nelly so all the seats shake when s/he does.

Zeyev said...

I read about that study on the way cities treat the homeless when the article was published. Although i agree with the premise, the ratings seemed to me to be similar to the way we identify "most livable city," or "most affordable small town," or "best college." Pop science at its worst.

That said, WMATA has now installed benches that are deucedly uncomfortable for those of us merely waiting for a bus.

But I have seen a skinny homeless person fit himself inside the middle armrest on one of the benches on 19th Street. Neat trick for an overnight stay in the summer.