Planning for winter outdoors in the wake of coronavirus
In "Planning programming by daypart, month, season: and Boston Winter Garden, DC's Holiday Market, etc." (2016) I make the point that commercial district revitalization planning and management organizations need to plan the retail mix by daypart and for seasonality (although it's based on a section of a planning document I produced in 2009).
And like how in this post I suggest this should have been done more rigorously before the pandemic for outdoors in the spring, summer, and fall too
-- "From more space to socially distance to a systematic program for pedestrian districts (Park City (Utah) Main Street Car Free on Sundays)," 2020
it's definitely the case for outdoor winter activation planning generally
-- "Events and programming in a systematic manner," 2018
-- "Night time as a daypart and a design product," 2017
This is all the more necessary given the pandemic, and how for hospitality based businesses (food and drink, entertainment) inside activities will still be high risk, given the three "C's.
-- "Snow, winter and the sustainable mobility city,"
Planning for lighting in the 18-24 Hour City. See "Night-time safety: rethinking lighting in the context of a walking community," 2014.
Commercial district revitalization and marketing organizations need better planning for the winter season. As stated above, programs should plan for seasonality. The pandemic provides an opportunity to do that for winter.
It turns out that Edmonton, Alberta has had such a plan and initiative for awhile ("Welcoming Winter's Cold Embrace," New York Times), including guidance for winter outdoor dining.
-- Winter City Strategy Plan, Edmonton
-- Winter City Implementation Plan, Edmonton
-- Winter Design Guidelines, Edmonton
-- Keep the Snowball Rolling: WinterCity Strategy Evaluation and Report
-- Winter Excitement Guide (October 2019 - March 2020)
There had been an initiative starting in the early 1980s, when a "Livable Winter Cities Association" was created for northern cities in the US and Canada to share ideas and strategies for managing winter activities and issues. I don't think the association still exists, but the Winter Cities Institute, which grew out of the LWCA, still operates.
Look to European cities for guidance on winter activation. I swear there was an article in the NYT within the last few years about outdoor winter use of patios in places like Copenhagen. They use heaters, blankets, have fire pits, etc.
In 2013, the Washington Post had a similar article ("In Washington, winter is coming, but many are just fine with dining outdoors") opining that DC could become like Copenhagen. From the article:
Cassandra McLuckie doesn’t sound crazy (she sounds Scottish, which she is, and which might explain why she seems immune to the chill that has nearby pedestrians hunched in their overcoats). The Library of Congress researcher could have had a seat on the 70-degree side of the window separating her from the main Le Diplomate dining room. Instead, she opted for one about 30 degrees cooler on the Q Street “terrace,” where she sat happily in a fur-lined puffy coat.Then it got cold and the restaurants mostly closed their patios.
TThese heaters are very nice,” McLuckie explained with a shrug. “It’s noisy inside. I don’t mind the cold.”
A few feet away, a grove of upright, mushroom-shaped gas heaters cast a curtain of warm air down upon the diners. Some ate $35 steak au poivre with restaurant-supplied blankets over their knees; some were stripped to shirt sleeves. One woman was forking oysters from a bed of ice. ...
Not all patrons are keen to eat outside, especially in parka weather. But managers say it’s often just a matter of getting the skeptical under heaters, which have become increasingly efficient.
I can't find the NYT article I'm thinking of but there's this, "In Paris, Cafe Terraces Are an Environmental Battleground," a story about how Parisian cafes run outdoor heaters in the winter to keep outdoor dining toasty and viable, but at least before the pandemic, this was criticized as contributing to climate change.
More US firms are looking at outdoor dining. This Restaurant Business article, "WHAT HAPPENS TO OUTDOOR DINING IN FALL AND WINTER?," discusses the efforts of restaurants in San Francisco and Washington to make outdoor dining successful in the winter months, while this Post article from 2017 mentions Hazel, a restaurant with a serious winter outdoor patio program:
This eclectic restaurant in Shaw recently debuted a winter wonderland-inspired patio, which is heated and outfitted with fluffy white pillows, cozy blankets and a festive silver wall. It's a whimsical place to enjoy Sunday brunch, when dim-sum-style dishes are served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ... The floor is covered with bright-green AstroTurf, so you can channel grassy, warmer days while toasting to the season.
Photo: Cooke Furniture.
I noticed at the Gateway District in Salt Lake, some of the outdoor furniture set ups include fire pits ("Commercial benefits of a fire pit at a restaurant in Los Angeles").
Chicago introduces winter outdoor dining design competition ("Chicago launches restaurant design challenge to find solutions to winter outdoor dining," Chicago Tribune). With the Illinois Restaurant Association and other partners, the City of Chicago has created a design competition for winter outdoor dining, although entries are due September 7th, not giving respondees much time.
-- City of Chicago Winter Design Challenge webpage
Winter biking. There is the organization, and they have a bi-ennial conference. Boulder has a Winter Bike to Work and School Day, as does Fort Collins and other communities. More communities should adopt this, through the creation of a "winter bike week" set of activities.
Apparently there is an International Winter Bike to Work Day on the second Friday of February.