2019 has been a busy year for Pasadena with the launch of numerous new health and safety-focused efforts aimed at improving the quality of life for its residents. In several planning and design initiatives this year, Asakura Robinson’s Houston and Austin offices have been applying their expertise in prioritizing health, safety, and wellness in the Pasadena community. First up: a transportation-focused addition to Pasadena’s Safe Routes to School Plan.
Safe Routes in Motion Pasadena
Asakura Robinson kicked-off the Safe Routes in Motion Pasadena project with Air Alliance Houston (AAH) this year focused on promoting active transportation and safe routes to school. This initiative builds on the Pasadena Safe Routes to School Plan that was led by Healthy Living Matters and the Pasadena Independent School District in 2016, by installing temporary bike lanes and enhancing sidewalks and crosswalks at two elementary schools identified as high-priorities in the Safe Routes to School Plan. Asakura Robinson will be putting its tactical urbanism hat on, to help empower residents in auditing street conditions and developing design solutions that can lead to safer walking and biking conditions for children and people of all ages and abilities. Moreover, AAH and neighborhood residents will be monitoring air quality pre and post installation to evaluate the impact of temporary installations. This data will be used by air quality experts to better understand the impact of tactical urbanism which is a new and exciting way to assist public health and planning decision-makers craft strategies for healthier, safer, more inclusive communities.
Healthy Parks Plan
Next, Asakura Robinson, in partnership with the Houston Parks Board and Land and Water Connections Consulting is launching a Healthy Parks Plan to improve Pasadena’s park system with the goal to ensure that Pasadena thrives by utilizing a park system that is as healthy, welcoming, and accessible as possible.
Parks are critical to building strong, healthy communities. Access to high-quality parks attracts businesses and workers. Well-designed parks improve air and water quality and can reduce excessive heat and absorb flood waters. Right now, under 54% of Pasadena residents have access to park within a 10-minute walk of home.
Through extensive community engagement and rigorous analysis of scientific data, the Healthy Parks Plan will identify the best opportunities for new parks, park improvements, park programming, and park funding and maintenance. In addition, community engagement for the project will be “equity-driven” meaning that partners will focus on minimizing barriers to participation and will focus particular attention on reaching underrepresented and underserved residents. Community engagement will be conducted in both Spanish and English and will include community workshops, interviews, focus groups, intercept surveys, “speak-outs,” an online survey, and a demographically representative telephone poll.
In preparation of the official launch, Asakura Robinson helped develop the Healthy Parks Design Guidelines to inform the planning and design of projects locally and regionally. The guide gives guiding principles for what makes a park a “healthy” park and provides three design toolkits – a physical, mental, and environmental health toolkit– for planners and designers to use when designing parks for public health. Tools include amenities such as athletic fields, wooded areas, and ambient noise reduction, and each recommendation is supported by the most recent research on public health, parks and the environment.
We are excited to partner with leading engineers and architects on these assignments and we can’t wait to share the results of these forward-looking projects that will make Pasadena a healthier and more equitable community.