From “Is it Safe to Walk? Neighborhood Safety and Security Considerations and Their Effects on Walking”, Journal of Planning Literature, February 2006 (p. 225):
The importance of walking and physical activity as determinants of good health has been well established in the medical and public health literature, but a significant number of Americans live sedentary lifestyles. A plethora of variables lie behind an individual’s decision to walk, cycle, or exercise. This article focuses on a particular environmental variable, the safety of neighborhood surroundings, and explores how it is influencing physical activity. It integrates literatures from public health, criminology, and planning to identify, qualify, and evaluate the link between safety and security considerations and physical activity. It then proceeds to place safety and security concerns within a spatial context and to examine design and policy interventions that can help create environments more amenable to walking…
According to the literature (Poyner 1983; City of Toronto 1992; Wekerle and Whitzman 1995; National Crime Prevention Council 1997; Zelinka and Brennan 2001) certain planning and design interventions can help block opportunities for crime, instill feelings of safety, and thus facilitate walking in the neighborhood. The following recommendations represent the collective wisdom found in the literature…
Eliminating bad neighbors. The land uses that line up a street or surround a public space are crucial for their safety. Abandoned buildings, liquor stores, seedy motels, bars, check-cashing establishments, pawnshops, and adult bookstores and movie theaters can generate crime because they can encourage antisocial behavior, concentrate lucrative targets, and attract potential criminals (Spelman 1993; Block and Block 1995). Such uses often give a neighborhood a bad reputation and increase the fear of crime. These bad neighbors should be banned from the vicinity of parks, bus stops, and public spaces.
See also (added 12/10/07):
Northampton awarded 2007 Massachusetts Healthy Motion Award
Bulletin from Wayne Feiden, Director of Planning and Development, City of Northampton
I am pleased to announce that on Friday the City of Northampton was one of three communities in Massachusetts to receive a 2007 Massachusetts Healthy Motion Award.
The award was granted by the Executive Offices of Health and Human Services and Transportation and Public Works.
It honors Northampton for “significant commitment to health and mobility by increasing walking and bicycling.” They were impressed with our rail trails, planned rail trails, bicycle lanes, planned bicycle lanes, bicycle racks and lockers, Pace Car Program, and other efforts.
Thank you to the Northampton Transportation and Parking Commission, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee, the Mayor, City Council, Department and Board of Public Works, and the Office of Planning and Development, all of whom have played a critical role in making this work possible.
Get out, get healthy– go walk or bicycle and celebrate healthy motion.
See also (added 6/5/07):
Bad Neighborhoods Make Fat Bodies
…research was conducted on 1,140 adults, aged 50 to 70. The neighborhoods of these cause environmental stress with features that promote heightened vigilance, fear or alarm. Fear-inducing factors considered are vacant houses and liquor stores, single-parent families and violent crimes.
While the overall obesity rate was 38 percent, it ranged from a low of 27% in the least hazardous neighborhoods to a high of 53% in the most hazardous neighborhoods.