Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

An example of "why" you should ban cars: "crime cars"

Left: getaway car.

I remember a community meeting back in the early 1990s, when I wasn't really involved in stuff the way I am now, where there was a discussion of the potential for the Metropolitan Branch Trail in my old H St. NE, and one of the comments by a resident that bicyclists would bring in more crime.

Now since then, we hear this argument a lot although the research demonstrates that crime on trails is less than that in abutting areas, either residential or commercial (see the discussion in the report Sidewalks and Shared-Use Paths: Safety; Security; and Maintenance , from the University of Delaware).

It was probably imprudent while serving as a government employee in Baltimore County that I pointed this out whenever this particular anti-trail argument was bandied about.  However, I extended the argument further (including in the draft I submitted, although the discussion was excised from the posted document).

I said that far more crimes were committed in association with the use of motor vehicles, yet after such crimes were committed, people don't call for either a ban on cars or roads, while they do, often, with regard to transit ("Proposed Bridge Connecting Light Rail to Neighborhood Draws Concerns" from Lutherville-Timonium Patch,") or bicycling.

From "Despite incidents, bike paths are seen as safe: Crime rates are similar to surrounding neighborhoods’" in the Schenectady Daily Gazette:

“Homeowners nationwide express the same concerns and fears about proposed trails in their neighborhoods. But studies in various parts of the United States seem to show that concerns about trails lowering property values and increasing crime are unfounded. In fact, trails have consistently been shown to increase (or have no effect on) property values, to have no measurable effect on public safety, and to have an overwhelming positive influence on the quality of life for trail neighbors as well as the larger community.” -- from the National Trails Training Partnership

This is from today's Post ("Detectives search for suspects in Jimmy Choo theft"):

Detectives in Montgomery County are looking for four men who they say swiped several handbags from the high-end Jimmy Choo store in Chevy Chase on Wednesday, authorities said.

In a news release, police said three of the four came into the store on Wisconsin Avenue about noon and swiped the handbags in about 10 or 15 seconds. They then made off in a red four-door sedan driven by a fourth man who was waiting for them outside, authorities said.

In total, the bags were worth more than $10,000, police said.

Well, since they used a car, we should close Wisconsin Avenue, as a crime reduction strategy.

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At 10:02 AM, Anonymous rg said...

Whenever I read the crime report in the Post weekly section on Thursday, I notice that a lot of robberies of pedestrians are committed by someone who has just exited a car or who flees to a waiting car driven by an accomplice. I also notice that the car invariably has Maryland license plates. Whenever I am walking through my neighborhood at night, I try to be as aware of cars as I am of pedestrians. To me, a car idling in a parking spot on the side of the street is much scarier than another pedestrian.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

ban cars with maryland plates?

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous rg said...

That would increase safety in many ways! :-)

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

one such clipped me while biking, driving recklessly, last Thursday or Friday, speeding on New Hampshire Ave. back to MD... I didn't fall fortunately.

Generally, I find that most of my incidents involving problems with drivers are with cars with MD (or at least non-DC) plates.


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