integrating street safety discussions going forward

In discussion of public safety issues in urban areas, law enforcement, design and planning issues often remain in their silos, devoid of integration. Ongoing neighborhood policing and social service initiatives should be more outrightly integrated with the renewed focus on environmental and urban design criteria for safe streetscapes.

Concepts of “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design” (CPTED)–frequently international in nature–have been present for decades and were implied in Jane Jacobs’ work.

Similar safety-enhancement approaches addressing perceived safety of female transit users have recently received wide attention in the professional and local press. Many cities and civic associations (such as the Downtown Seattle Association) have also advocated for integration of such concepts. As advocacy efforts for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure funding accelerate, enhanced policy and regulation encouraging such principles for safety will present further discussion opportunities for agreement by interested parties.

In Seattle, after a see-saw match of legislation and veto focused on aggressive panhandling, we, like other cities, could benefit from an integrated and multifaceted discussion of truly “complete streets”.

A recent visit to Melbourne, Australia showed certain CPTED principles along neighborhood streetcar lines, including ample (but glare-protective) night-lighting, territorial sensitivities to illuminated, sidewalk-oriented window areas, enhancement of the role of passing vehicles, transparent protection from weather at building entries, and low bushes and/or lower picket-type fencing along the street to limit access while allowing for entry visibility.

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