Monday, January 18, 2016

CPTED in transit - Connecting people, not just places

GUEST BLOG - Mateja Mihinjac is a criminologist at Griffith University, Australia completing doctoral research into CPTED. She has co-taught SafeGrowth and CPTED and is a member of the International CPTED Association. She kindly submitted this blog on her recent research on CPTED and public transit.

I was recently asked to conduct research on CPTED in a transit environment. When I surveyed the academic literature I expected to find articles focused on physical modifications and security features alone — this has been a constant in most transit agencies. I ended up pleasantly surprised.

There were numerous references to social elements in crime and perception of safety. Many authors recognised that the physical environment alone had limited effectiveness in managing risks of crime and perception of the riders’ safety.


For example, in the waiting environment Loukaitou-Sideris study in 1999 identified that negative land uses and deteriorated surroundings contributed to crime prone bus stops in Los Angeles. In London research by Newton, Patridge and Gill in 2014 showed that crime proneness at underground stations was characterised by its above ground social environment.

As early as 1991 Saville published research regarding how the shortage of human presence posed increased risks for riders in the walking environment. A few years earlier Van Andel discovered the same on the en-route environment for both bus and train locations.

Melbourne train station - beautiful well-lit architecture, active social spaces 

In 2010 Yavuz and Welch found that the simple lack of people on the platform induced fear for train users and that presence of CCTV did not mitigate this perception. Finally, research by Delbosch & Currie in 2012 and by Cozens and Can der Linde in 2015 demonstrated that social characteristics surrounding the waiting environment were more influential in perception of safety than characteristics of the physical design alone.


This research reinforces prior blogs regarding the importance of community culture and opportunity-based connection in the transit environment.

Improving social conditions at the micro-environment is a major theme of 2nd Generation CPTED and SafeGrowth, identified in 2001 by Lusk as social bridges in the transport environment. Social bridges reduce anonymity amongst the riders and make them more likely to assist one another in case of an incident, a phenomenon now known as the by-stander effect.

Next time when you catch a ride downtown put your mobile phone away and have a conversation with a stranger. It may change your life for the better.