Tuesday, June 12, 2018

CPTED on a pendulum

Relaxing in Central Park made easy with benches, clean walkways
and something interesting to watch
By Mateja Mihinjac

Embedded within SafeGrowth practice resides a number of tactics, one of which is CPTED - crime prevention through environmental design. CPTED is often criticized for being simplistic and reductionist in its solutions and for promoting fortressing while displacing undesirable activity.

In January, Greg reprinted an article he wrote a few years ago about the exclusionary nature of CPTED when it disregards some at the expense of others.

These side effects may seem unsurprising considering that the word “prevention” implies attention to undesirable behaviors. However, years of experience teach us that not every crime problem will benefit from simply restricting behaviors; we also need to provide alternatives and support desirable conduct.

Not all dogs agree, but even in rain, dogwalking is pro-social
This does not infer a binary approach to CPTED but rather attention to details because, when it comes to intended and desirable outcomes, context matters! It is therefore prudent to outline some of the 1st Generation CPTED principles using a pendulum between restrictive and desirable behavioral outcomes.

Talented street artists can beautify unpleasant areas

THE CONTEXT PENDULUM

A broader view of CPTED is nothing new; it can be observed in the early writing of CPTED by the original authors. For example, we know from Oscar Newman’s work on defensible space that territorial influence is most powerful when it combines “latent territoriality and sense of community” when residents care for shared spaces and each other.

Tactics to uncover latent territoriality include designing visual contact between residential areas and building semi-private areas where neighbors can congregate, factors that still emerge today in research.

Methods to enhance the social climate of an area include getting people to better know, and care for, each other with cultural and recreational activities.

Street markets provide a fun reason for going outside
Newman predicted this latent territoriality promotes ownership through supporting pro-social behaviors while concurrently deflecting unwanted use without the need for physical reinforcement.

Similarly, Jane Jacobs extended her discussion of “eyes upon the street” and argued that streets are safe when they provide opportunities for desirable activities by offering people a reason to occupy them, as we described in recent blogs on sidewalks and alternatives to bollards.

There is no shortage of other methods to create desirable locations, for example through tactical urbanism and placemaking that build pro-social activities and informal supervision.

Street busker activating a public plaza

FINDING BALANCE

Mainstream 1st Generation CPTED continues to undermine the need for investing in social capital as the underlying prerequisite for effective and sustainable crime prevention.

In SafeGrowth, we employ 2nd Generation CPTED to promote social cohesion, local pride and social interaction. The goal is to swing the pendulum towards pro-social conduct and away from an anti-social, target-hardening mantra. Ultimately, the key for quality of life in neighborhoods is finding the right balance between the two.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

What's up with sidewalks?


Dr. Jekyll lives on the left.
Poorly lit sidewalks with sodium streetlights meant for cars, not people

by Greg Saville

What’s up with sidewalks? Walkability might be the gateway to a friendlier and safer city, but it requires a high-quality place to walk with interesting destinations. My walks of late uncovered some big-time flops. What are designers thinking when they create sidewalks?

Shrubs 1. Sidewalk 0
Too narrow and obstructed by private landscaping
Some sidewalks are inappropriate for people with disabilities. Others have street signs in the middle of the sidewalk forcing walkers onto the street. Yet others are dark at night, in disrepair, too small or are encroached by yard landscaping.

Salvation lies elsewhere.
This church dismisses walkers by fencing front stairways
Some municipalities require homeowners to keep sidewalks clean in front of their home and, in winter cities, free of snow. That is reasonable. But cities often expect too much, such as when public sidewalks are worn or damaged and homeowners are required to pay thousands for repairs.

Too often sidewalks are poorly designed and they end with no destination.

Logic lost!
Warning walkers of a crosswalk, but forcing them to walk
onto the street to avoid the sign

SMART GROWTH 

In the planning movement called Smart Growth, walkability plays an important role. One attempt to measure walkability is The Walk Score, but it is far from ideal (try it).

Activating a sidewalk with lighting, benches, and a night-time economy

My current address has a measly Walk Score of 46, making it car dependent. Yet, nearby are trails, a lake, park, and mountain views. My former address scored a dazzling 84; In one direction there were great restaurants, parks, a library, coffee shops, school, and trails. Yet, in another, you could just as easily get caught between gang shootings. Obviously, Walk Scores say nothing about neighborhood quality.

Interesting design, colors & lighting attracts people
Recent Smart Growth designs include the SmartCode concept, an attempt to replace restrictive zoning practices of the past. As yet, it’s unclear SmartCode prescriptions are any better at triggering the creative, bottom-up placemaking shown in a few of these photos. But it’s a starting place.

Street artists at night bring culture to dead streets

Friday, May 25, 2018

To "Phoenix" - We can help you do better

Walking Manhattan streets on a rainy day last week
by Gregory Saville

Last week I walked rain-soaked streets in Manhattan and in ten blocks, 15 different homeless people approached me asking for cash. A few suffered mental illness, some a demon intoxicant, and others the unfairness of circumstance. One reached out for dollars with his left hand while he clutched a cell phone in his right. Everyone's story was different - except they were all on the street.

I often feel an apoplectic irrelevance at moments like that. Why does homelessness persist? What can be done? We have blogged many times about homelessness in Reducing homelessness, part 1 & 2, Sidewalk sleeping in Toronto, Hostile architecture and CPTED, and Dignity Village.

I’ve coauthored an ICA White Paper, on the topic, and Tarah Hodgkinson heads an ICA Homelessness committee to seek alternatives. But blogs and White Papers don't solve the problem. What can we do?

ALTERNATIVES

Big cities have always had homeless but for the first time in a very long time, the number of unsheltered homeless people is rising. Bucking a decade-long decline, homeless numbers have been increasing since 2017.

No surprise: New York and Los Angeles - the largest cities - had the largest numbers (over 130,000 combined).

Big surprise: Seattle and Silicon Valley’s San Jose had the 3rd and 6th largest homeless populations. Apparently, street living in those high tech cities bypasses the riches flowing from companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple and Facebook who also reside there.

Of the smaller cities, all but 2 of the 10 worst homeless cities were in warmer climate states (Florida, California, and Hawaii) where winter snows are absent.

Hostile architecture in the affluent Upper West Side, NY
Overall, numbers are down. Some kinds of homelessness continue to decline, child homelessness and veteran homelessness. Further, some states do much better at taking care of homeless people with overnight shelters. New York and Massachusetts house almost all of their homeless overnight (95% each). On the other hand, California, Nevada and Mississippi house only 49% to 68% of their homeless overnight.

There are some good news stories from Canada. Since 2015, the Canadian city of Medicine Hat, Saskatchewan (population 60,000) has eradicated homelessness in their city.

Rain lifting from a foggy NY evening. Lifting homelessness
from city streets - a lofty and worthy goal.
Clearly, negligent cities have much to learn from others, including the homeless themselves.

SafeGrowth advocate Kallan Lyons worked at a Toronto homeless shelter and helped produce Streets to Script, a book of writing in the words of those in the shelter. One resident, Phoenix, writes:
I sit and ponder,
Why life has turned out this way,
I had thought my life would turn out differently…
I will make a better life for myself,
So I sit and ponder,
How my life can move forward.
Yes, Phoenix, you can move forward. We all can do better to help you.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The beginnings of crime prevention in Canada – Professor Irvin Waller


by Tarah Hodgkinson

The story of crime prevention and victim’s rights advocacy in Canada can be traced back as early as the 1800s, but many authors claim that the beginning of the crime prevention era in Canada began in the mid-1960s. A large part of that story begins with our friend and past SafeGrowth blogger, Professor Irvin Waller.

This week Irvin reached out to let me know he was retiring. He probably could have retired years ago, but he remained dedicated to making places safer and defending the rights of victims of crime.

And good thing he did. If Irvin retired when he should have I may never have gotten involved in crime prevention and, in turn, SafeGrowth. Irvin was the first criminologist I met who showed me that I could take everything I had learned about crime and cities and people and translate that into making real change. I write this blog in celebration of his amazing career and consistent support of other changemakers.

A NON-TRADITIONAL ACADEMIC

Irvin Waller is not what many would call a traditional academic. He didn’t spend his career focused on writing papers or attending conferences. Instead, he moved around, working in government and founding international organizations like the International Center for the Prevention of Crime.

He also spearheaded the magna carta for victims of crime at the UN, which resulted in the declaration on basic principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power. He went on to develop the Safer Cities Program with UN Habitat and worked directly with the World Health Organization on guidelines to reduce violence.

Irvin Waller - photo CMNCP

He was involved in creating the Institute for the Prevention of Crime at University of Ottawa and has advised on crime prevention policy in Canada and internationally throughout his career. Irvin also has continued to write several books on crime prevention and rights for victims of crime.

Irvin's most recent book, Smarter Crime Control: A Guide to a Safer Future for Citizens, Communities and Politicians, speaks directly to community leaders and politicians about how to reduce crime and make communities safer. And guess what, SafeGrowth is in there too!

Interestingly, Irvin has consistently demanded that federal governments need to invest in upstream solutions and prevention at the same time that SafeGrowth continued to demonstrate the need for neighbourhood governance and local solutions. However, in his 2006 book, Less Law, More Order he expanded his vision and emphasized the role of local changemakers.

Since then, Irvin created the Canadian Municipal Network of Crime Prevention, further anchoring his station as a leader in Canadian crime prevention and an ally of the SafeGrowth philosophy.

Congratulations Irvin on an amazing career and on inspiring the next generation.