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Please drink in this park

Sweden has strict rules regarding alcohol beverages. The country has its own alcohol monopoly called Systembolaget, which is the only retailer allowed to sell beverages containing more than 3.5% alcohol.

Stockholm is no exception. Adults can buy alcohol either at restaurants and bars, or at one of the Systembolaget boutiques throughout the city. Comparing to other European capitals, drinking in public is less common in Stockholm, due to municipal regulations.

Seeing some guys sitting in a park and drinking a beer or two is indeed not rare, but heavy drinking seems to happen only in certain places, while other squares and parks stay free of trouble. Why do certain places attract bored teenagers and the less fortunate to get drunk?

Take for example the small park in Bredäng, a quiet suburb situated out of Stockholm. When it’s getting dark – and in Sweden it can get dark very early during the winter – this place is becoming an alcohol magnet.

Why? Hard to tell. My guess is that this small park offers a quite nice atmosphere for drinking. The park is located about 30 meters from the path leading from the metro station to the residential area. It is not too close to the path, and the drinkers do not attract much attention from the passers-by. They also don’t feel completely isolated, and they can sit comfortably and watch the neighborhood dwellers walking by.

The city has hung a sign stating that alcohol drinking is forbidden in the park. Well, can someone remind me since when those small signs actually work? By hanging this sign the city admits that this place has become a perfect place for drinking.

What was this park designed for? To provide people an escape from the stressful city life? Bredäng – and this is true for many other suburbs around the world – is so green and calm that people just don’t use parks to find a peaceful place. This little park could be a treasure if it was located in a tumultuous city center, not in the quite suburbs.

The solution can be found in Jane Jacob’s classic “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”. All this park needs is more eyes! If it was integrated with the paths leading tens of people an hour, it could become an interesting place in which the passers-by would act both as an attraction and active watchers. Unfortunately, as long as the park will stay hidden and boring, it will keep function as Bredäng’s best bar.



Lior Steinberg

Co-founder & Urban Planner

Lior Steinberg is an urban planner. He helps cities to look beyond functionality and to plan urban spaces that make people smile. Follow him on Twitter and Linkedin.

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