Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A piano for safety - the Red Deer experiment

Activity support in downtown Red Deer, Alberta
Steven Woolrich is an Alberta CPTED consultant and board member of the International CPTED Association. He is a frequent contributor to SafeGrowth. He currently authors the Target Crime blog linked on LIKEMINDED. This is an exerpt from his upcoming 2012 article for the ICA newsletter CPTED Perspective.

Activity support helps generate more buzz on our streets and can create more interaction between all types of people. Music is certainly a way of generating interest on the street and for me the piano is the ultimate instrument for delivering a great melody. After hearing about street pianos being placed around New York City, I figured why not Red Deer, Alberta.

Children need fun and touchable street furniture

After speaking with serveral business owners in the area it was decided. The piano would rest in a small alcove outside a local restaurant on Ross Street, the main drag through downtown Red Deer. It was named the Ross Street piano.

Interest in the project grew quickly with several carpenters offering to build a new deck for the piano with building materials being provided by the local Co-op at no cost. The piano was installed on July 28th, 2010 and remained in place until the first part of October. Several City officials played a tune or two, including the Mayor.

In the weeks that followed many local people dropped by to tickle the ivory keys and sing along with others. The piano was there for anyone to use, day or night. Business owners and those playing the instrument would cover it up at night before going home.

Public art and culture has many expression if left to the public.
The Ross Street Piano will be available again this summer from June through August and will now highlight some local artwork as well. The piano will allow artists to showcase their talents with a new theme each year.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Our changing streets - Eugene bike paths

More bikes means more eyes on the street. That can cut crime. Last week I spent time working with my Safe Cascadia friends in Eugene, Oregon, one of the most bike friendly cities in the country. Recently Eugene copied other bike friendly cities (Davis CA, Portland OR) by installing special bike traffic signals. They have also dedicated half a roadway to bike lanes.

Three thoughts come to mind.

1) From what I saw, Eugene cyclists seem unaccustomed to stopping at red lights. Police enforcement may become the new vogue (last year cops issued 114 tickets for bikes running stop lights and signs). Thousands of lost and stolen bikes already clog police evidence rooms. Clearly, bike enforcement is a growth industry.

2) Bike trails might also put illegitimate eyes on the street (drug dealers, burglars). Police rarely target bike criminals. Bike cops can do that but bike cops are an underfunded and small part of police patrol.

3) There are comments in an earlier blog about assaults on the Pinellas Trail in Florida. That 30-mile trail has added security features due to crime concerns.

All which leads me to ask: Could the design and siting of bike trails need more CPTED and security attention?

That's a rhetorical question.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tackling crime during an oil boom

Last week was a very good week for SafeGrowth.

Fort McMurray, a city of over 100,000 is hub of the world-famous Alberta oil sands project. Established in 1870 as a Hudson's Bay trading post, today's Ft. Mac (officially the Municipality of Wood Buffalo) is ground zero for the world's biggest modern Gold Rush (...oil rush)!

As in times of old, Rushes lead to incredible population growth, crime and disorder. (Projected growth is over 230,000 in 15 years). Unlike times of old, Ft. Mac is taking steps to deal with it.

For the past year, myself and urban design specialist Megan Carr have been working with senior planner Tracey Tester and her talented crime prevention team to institute a new development plan. Our goal: create a neighborhood-based, collaborative plan based on crime prevention science. In other words, SafeGrowth. This past week the city council voted that crime prevention and reduction plan into life.

Even the media, it seems, has caught the excitement. News reports describe the plan.

Congratulations to Tracey and her team.

Mapping fear areas downtown. All part of SafeGrowth planning

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Park safety in Berlin

I met Petra Warman from the Berlin Police at the International CPTED Association conference year before last. She is a talented CPTED specialist and police officer who heads up CPTED initiatives in her city. This is an excerpt from Petra’s article in the forthcoming issue of CPTED PERSPECTIVE the ICA newsletter.

"One of the most fascinating aspects about Berlin is the inner city parks, which range from 970 square feet to over 700 acres. Obviously public space and parkland in Berlin has a major role in the participation of social life.

Well-used public parks and recreation areas are key to ensuring they are successful. This depends firstly on the whether the intended user group adopts the offered layout. It also depends on the proper use of surveillance and safety including natural access control, natural surveillance and territorial reinforcement.

Berliners want to be part of the design of their environment. They demand participation and are also prepared to give us a hand when it comes to the work. In all this work, accessibility is the key word.

Berlins’ parks are not fenced and therefore open to everybody all the time. This demands a strong identification of the space. Resident’s identification with their public parks is the ideal way to encourage their participation. Their engagement makes it possible to keep it that way."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Subway Safety in Toronto - tales from the underground

This past week I indulged an old pastime: riding Toronto's subway system. It looked similar to 25 years ago (albeit more worn). Similar, that is except for security provisions.

Back in 1988 I rode the system with transit, police and a victim's group called METRAC. As part of my grad work in environmental criminology, I researched a new technique for collecting fear and CPTED data - the Safety Audit.

Today that technique is in practically every Canadian city and now even the United Nations promotes it worldwide. Yet still today many CPTED practitioners confuse the Safety Audit with CPTED surveys or checklists. Safety Audits are about finding out what local people feel and fear about a location. Before then site-specific fear data was neither collected nor targeted for fixing. Some CPTED folk still don’t.

I was pleased to see dozens of Safety Audit innovations still in place. One of them was the Designated Waiting Area on every subway platform where passengers wait for trains in a marked and specially lit area. Each DWA has an emergency phone to security and is monitored by cameras. In 1988 there were few areas like this in subways anywhere in the world.

A subway (or any public transit) where people feel safer means more people take it at night. That reduces isolation and increases ridership - a win/win. Along with the Washington DC subway (also with extensive CPTED innovations) Toronto's subway today is among the safest in the world.