As generalizations, the most common denominator of street crime is
that the victim is isolated. In places with high pedestrian density,
there is a risk of pickpocketing but muggings and violent crime are
all but unknown. In most American cities, at most times of the day,
the pedestrian on the sidewalk is very isolated, and thus vulnerable.
The modern urban paradigm, spawned in L.A. but copied throughout the
country, makes this the norm.
Add to that the tolerance of vagrants of others who affront civility,
plus a dash of high social inequality, and the resulting environment
is highly inimical to walking, public civility, and carfree
Contrast this with high density pedestrian areas, such as now
relatively low-crime Manhattan, Venice, most any city in east or
south Asia, and many still in Europe. Except for areas rocked by
major civil unrest, citizens and visitors can amble about peaceably
at in these high-density areas in all but the darkest hours of the
day with little concern for their physical safety.
It seems that that simply trying to overlay a carfree environment on
the existing infrastructure most anywhere in the USA would not
produce a desirable environment. The list list of failed experiments
with carfree streets and zones in America supports this. By contrast,
in Europe they are numerous and thriving.
It would be a spectacular challenge for an urban planner to come up
with a plan that would create a carfree district in the USA that
actually works. The first matter would to allay the safety problems
addressed in the note. The second would be to overcome the equally
insidious and valid (in this countyr) claim that lack of car traffic
equals lack of business.
As in Europe, local efforts to establish car-free days seem the most
promising way to start. I'm surprised that there has been so little
noise about it here, even in places such as S.F. and Berkeley where
one would expect a certain enthusiasm for such things.
--- In carfree_cities@y..., "carfreecrawford" <jhc@c...> wrote:
> I received the following comment regarding Carfree.com
> in this morning's mail:
> I love the carfree idea but in the US a tolerance of crime would
> the idea from working well. I've lived in LA and know that I'd be
> dead without my car for basic protection. Those who walk have
> safety. In Baltimore I stayed in a high hotel and watched below as
> people in the poor dangerous side of town feared to walk the
> sidewalks, they walked in the streets among the cars to avoid being
> mugged. Others ran at a moderate speed on the sidewalks since
> stopping meant to be approached by a dangerous street-person. I see
> dropping the population of the earth as a more reasonable solution.
> friend of mine lives in a small town with fewer cars. Everyone
> and walks...the big overpopulated per square mile city thing is
> gets to me.
> Thanks for an interesting read,
> Would anyone like to write a short article for Carfree Times
> that addresses this issue? I'm swamped at the moment. It
> wouldn't run until the July issue, as May is pretty well full.