Parks are traditionally mixed use spaces – for kids playing, ball games, drinking or eating, walking dogs…. Of course, sometimes these activities get in the way of each other, but generally people are reasonable and negotiate the space. Now we are seeing more zoning of public space, with specialist dog walking zones (no kids), designated drinking zones (drunks only), children’s play areas (no unaccompanied adults).
Towns including Peterborough have proposed designated ‘wet zones’ – ie, areas of the park where street drinkers are allowed to hang out (drinking is banned everywhere else). Meanwhile, parks in Washington State are planning to ban kids under eight from dog walking zones (which means, presumably, a parent couldn’t walk the dog with their young child). Kennington Park in London has banned football matches – directing teams to the nearby football area if they want to play.
Not only is this restrictive of public freedoms – it also means a more regimented public space, without the mixing and negotiation between different activities. Drunks sit here; dogs walk there; kids play ball there. The trouble starts if you want to walk the dog with your kid, or have a beer with your dog…
Peterborough ‘wet’ zones:
Washington ban on kids from dogs areas: