|A safe design that facilitates “eyes on the street”|
The level of neighborhood safety can positively or negatively impact the health and social well-being of our neighborhoods. Current research suggests:
- An association between crime or the fear of crime and lower levels of physical activity especially among women, children and the elderly
- A lack of neighborhood safety discourages adults and children from walking or biking to destinations, children from playing outdoors and from using parks and other recreational facilities and, therefore, can negatively impact the health of a community or neighborhood
- Children living in unsafe neighborhoods or those characterized by poor housing had a 30-60% higher likelihood of being obese or overweight than those living in better conditions
Aspects of the physical environment can encourage or discourage street crime. Physical features, layout, circulation patterns, the design of buildings and neighborhoods and amenities such as good lighting, trees, benches and other aesthetic qualities can impact crime prevention, neighborhood deterioration and residents’ fear of crime.
Designing to facilitate “eyes on the street”, buildings that have windows, doors and porches overlooking streets, parks and community open spaces, make for safer neighborhoods. Also, access to effective protective and emergency services encourage more people to frequent an area and can foster a sense of community and neighborhood safety.
In one study people who classified their neighborhood as “not at all safe” were three times more likely to be physically inactive during leisure time than those who considered their neighborhood to be “extremely safe”. The Winston-Salem Police Department Strategic Plan identifies among its priorities improving the quality of life and reducing conditions that foster crime and fear of crime. This includes a focus on parks, schools and other public areas. The Department is also working to improve community trust, interaction, involvement and accountability.
The Center for Community Safety at Winston-Salem State University focuses on the utilization of research to enhance response to community safety issues. It partners with the Winston-Salem Police Department and community groups on a number of projects and initiatives aimed at making the community and its neighborhoods safer such as the Weed and Seed Initiative, Project Safe Neighborhoods and Smart Policing Initiatives.
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