Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Some trails are happy ones...

No doubt considerable fear exists on the streets of London after this week's riots. Whole books are written on urban crime and fear. What about rural places far from urban mayhem? The Gabriola Island murders from last blog suggest rural crimes too ferment fears of public places like nature trails.

This is ironic. Parks and trails are statistically far safer than bars at closing time or inside homes when domestic strife turns violent. Study after study tell us public trails are safe, such as Tod Schneider's article on bike trails back in 2000.

Yet those are urban studies. Research has yet to examine rural nature trails and crime. CPTED was born, after all, in the city.

I was recently interviewed by a horticulture magazine about trees and crime asking these very questions. The article, Trees Thwart Shady Behavior, described a study on crime and residential trees by examining 2,813 single-family homes in Portland, Oregon.

Controlling for visual appearance, presence of barriers, and street activity, the study showed "houses fronted with more street trees had lower crime rates". That was all crime rates, including vandalism and burglary.

Read it HERE.