May I sit here? Not in Rīga, you may not

On May 10, Rīga activists plan to unveil a bench in the center of the capital in hopes to draw attention to the fact that there are simply not enough places for people to rest their weary legs, Latvian Radio reported.

Residents addressed by Latvian Radio agreed that some additional seats and benches would be nice.

"It's alright in the parks, but streets must be worked on. There are places where people need to sit and rest. The absence of benches can cause problems if people are tired, ill, or elderly. They would be in real need of the benches."

"There used to be a lot of benches in Ķengarags. But in summer homeless people slept on them, and they were broken. Many were broken. That's why they stopped installing them. I would certainly want more. Legs get tired."

"They show up from place to place. I like it in Jaunā Teika where I live. There could certainly be more resting spots."

Rīga Neighborhoods Alliance head Māris Jansons also pointed to the lack of benches.

"A pleasant city is where it is nice to be on the street, where you can meet people. Not that everyone is in their homes and go out to receive some service – it is not a city that seems a good place to live. [..] There must be public outdoor spaces, streets, green zones, where people want to gather. Plan a meeting not in a shopping mall cafe but outside. Benches are the beginning," said Jansons.

The association City for People has also addressed the issue. To encourage the municipality to act, the organization together with the Rīga Design and Art School and several businesses have created furniture that serves as protection for trees, as a bench and two tables. They are installed on Tērbatas Street near the intersection of Brīvības Boulevard and Merķeļa Street.

Rīga municipality has paid attention to the concerns and promises to set up 150 benches throughout Rīga this year. To improve the cityscape, there would be benches of different designs in each neighborhood, said Rīga City Council representative Inese Andersone.

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