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Thread: Site design for safety

  1. #1
    Cyburbian inzane's avatar
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    Site design for safety

    I recently changed jobs and I am currently working in a community that has some issues with crime and safety. In my last position public safety (muggings, shooting est.) was an issue but not as much as it is here. The problem that I am having is a lot of the methods I have learned to soften the build environment (landscaping, berms, masonry wall, rod iron fencing) are seen to be unsafe. The argument that I hear from developers and the governing body is "some one can hide behind those". That leaves good site designs and architectural quality high and dry. What’s left is a site striped of all vegetation, paved, and place a building in the center with enough cameras and lights for a rock video. Is there a resource or book that touches on public safety and good site design
    “I injured a rock… Hospitalized a brick… I’m so bad I make medicine Sick!!!!”
    Muhammad Ali

  2. #2
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    The key phrase to google is CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Envirnmental Design". There are tonnes of resources out there. If you have real specific questions ask away, JNL is our resident "expert" on the topic.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    HUD put out a publication a few years ago entitled Creating Defensible Space. You can download a PDF for free if you google it. You might also see if the GSA has issued any similar guidelines for federal buildings (following the interest in safe spaces after 9-11).
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Thanks donk!
    Quote Originally posted by inzane
    The problem that I am having is a lot of the methods I have learned to soften the build environment (landscaping, berms, masonry wall, rod iron fencing) are seen to be unsafe. The argument that I hear from developers and the governing body is "some one can hide behind those".
    A common misperception about CPTED is that it advocates a "scorched earth" policy whereby all objects that could be hidden behind should be removed. This is simply not the case. A key message is that safe design is good design, and quality landscaping is an important part of this. It is simply about taking safety into consideration when designing or redesigning a site or area, and may mean things like keeping fences low, or see-through, and avoiding the creation of "entrapment spots". Another misperception is that it is about putting bright lighting everywhere - in fact, it is about ensuring lighting is appropriate, and this may mean no lighting in some cases.

    In many cases CPTED principles are common sense and you may well have been using them without realising. If a place is designed in a way that encourages it to be used as intended, is attractive and well-maintained, etc.. then it probably is a good example of CPTED principles. CPTED most certainly does NOT leave good site design and architectural quality "high and dry".

    This is NOT CPTED as it intended to interpreted:
    What’s left is a site striped of all vegetation, paved, and place a building in the center with enough cameras and lights for a rock video.
    As donk said there are many good web resources out there. The UK's Safer Places guide is pretty good: http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk/act...munities61.htm

  5. #5
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    Here in southern Ontario some Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have become proficient with CPTED principles. Some detachments offer a service of doing CPTED audits for sites that have been repeatedly hit by crime. Perhaps some of the police services in your area are trained? I was able to weasle my way into a 4-day training seminar (OPP style ... they break you down then reprogram you!). I was the only planner among a room full of cops (but thats another story...). I got to talking with the instructors after-hours and everyone agreed how we in the Planning field have a great opportunity to apply CPTED principles in site design to avoid crime hot spots in the first place. Unfortunately sometimes costs and politics get in the way.

    The important thing to remember is that you're not going to eliminate crime. CPTED site design is intended to encourage normal users and observers while discouraging abnormal users by influencing territorial behaviour, creating opportunites for survellance and safe access.

    When you keep stacking up subtle environmental queues its amazing how the built environment can influence behavour - in the case of CPTED, to encourage normal users and discourage abnormal users.

    Its a fascinating sub-field of planning.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Dashboard's avatar
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    I would agree with JNL that many CPTED standards are common sense. Also, the environment that CPTED strives to achieve is in many ways similar to what new urbanists desire: no wasted spaces, lots of opportunity for community interaction, busy or utilized streets and sidewalks, constant "eyes" on the street which will compliment other forms of natural surveillance...when it comes down to it, many of the different schools of thought are structured around the same core principles.

    Of course, we don't always live in a common sense world.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    My counterpart's county has some good info on CPTED. Find it at:

    http://ns1.co.henrico.va.us/police/cpted.htm

    As someone said, just Google it and you'll get tons of links. I will say that the main difficulties will be:

    1. Getting others to buy into it
    2. Balancing other regulations against the crime prevention recommendations.

    Typically, some things we (the police planners) ask for will conflict with fire dept codes or landscape ordinance requirements or building code regs. You have to be creative in what you recommend!

    Good luck.

  8. #8
    "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" of Jane Jacobs is still a classics regarding crime in cities.

    Two views exist on environmental crime reduction action plans: Oscar Newman's defensible space (seems to be popular in the US) and Jane Jacobs's.

    Jane Jacobs offers a view a bit different from Oscar Newman in the sense that she advocates that designs should encourage all pedestrians to use the public spaces, local people as well as strangers. On the contrary, Newman advocates enclosed semi-private spaces that deter passers-by. In other words, one sees strangers as a source of safety and the other one as a source of danger.

    You can have a look to Bill Hillier's views too which are quite similar to Jane Jacobs's (England). As it was said before, www.odpm.gov.uk has extensive ressources on crime reduction action plan.

    Edouard Moreau
    edouard.moreau@gmail.com

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Al Zelinka recently wrote a book called "Safescape" and for those not shunning APA it is available from them. Good book. The current APA mag has a bunch of stuff touching shallowly on safety in design.

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