walkable cities and public safety: new Seattle initiatives joust with conventional measures

This week, two presentations in Seattle addressed the importance of maintaining vitality on city streets.

First, at the Seattle Art Museum on February 23, Helle Søholt of Copenhagen’s Gehl Architects, highlighted the findings of her firm’s Public Space and Public Life Study, a novel effort for a major American City. Second, the Downtown Seattle Association sponsored a forum on public safety in the retail core and adjacent neighborhoods, which included a spotlight on Councilmember Tim Burgess’ pending “street disorder/quality of life” initiative.

The myurbanist bottom line?

Seattle urban cogniscenti now demand the pedestrian magic of Melbourne, Austraila “laneways”:

And hold out the dynamic vitality of streets reclaimed by pedestrians::

Yet the great, walkable cities of the world all succeed based on a perception of safety. At the Downtown Seattle Association Forum, Councilmember Burgess, City Attorney Peter Holmes and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg all stressed that widespread pedestrian use of downtown streets may not occur without more of a perceived police presence, and additional police hires.

At myurbanist, we have a complementary solution, drawn from the European island country of Malta, rich with the history of the Knights of the Order of St. John. Analogous to reconnaissance drones used in the Middle East, the presence of “unmanned”. stationary knights in armor at key locations on Seattle streets would enhance protection to Seattle’s hoped-for street life.

In a time of scarce resources, improvisation is good. What do you think?

3 thoughts on “walkable cities and public safety: new Seattle initiatives joust with conventional measures

  1. Richard Gordon

    Live “scarecrow cops” didn’t exactly cut it in the Bus Tunnel. “Empty-suit knights in shining armor” certainly couldn’t do any worse… Though, sadly, with scrap metal prices being what they are, susceptibility to theft seems high… (Equally sadly, uncontrolled tagging would likely quickly “Americanize” the effect…) All that notwithstanding, it’s well worth a try… 😉

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