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Thread: Greenways as crime magnets? [Temp 1]

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    Cyburbian
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    Greenways as crime magnets? [Temp 1]

    Here's a puzzler: Have any of you noticed any increase in crime after developing greenways? I just had a question from a concerned business owner about a possible greenway that would run near his business; he was worried that it would put him out of business. Since I'm writing my thesis on greenway development and the stuff that naturally develops around them, and since most (ok, virtually all) of what I've seen is very positive, esp. on the economic development end, I had to grit my teeth and say I'd get back to him with information. But it got me wondering, which one of us is the misinformed one here, or are we just looking at opposite sides of a very big picture?

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    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Here's a link to a site that discusses various studies.

    Conservation Fund

    I'll try to pm/e-mail you a pdf of "rails-trails and safe communities" by Rails to Trails but its big. I can't find it on the web.

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    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Could you give us the definition of greenway used in your thesis and in the context of that conversation?

    Are we talking about a recreational way, or a natural undeveloped linear buffer, or something else?
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

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    Cyburbian ecofem's avatar
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    An excerpt from The Trust for Public Land's Website:

    ..."The Benefits of Open Space"....

    Reducing Crime and Fostering Cohesive Communities

    There is mounting evidence that access to open space and recreational facilities can significantly reduce juvenile crime rates in urban areas, at a fraction of the cost of increased police and prison facilities. In Fort Myers, Florida, for example, police have documented a 28 percent drop in juvenile arrests since 1990, following the construction of a new recreation center in the heart of a low-income community.

    In northeastern Massachusetts, the Minuteman Bikeway runs through Cambridge, Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford. According to Alan McClennen, a project planner for the bikeway, "Numerous studies have been done that show that as abandoned railroad corridors are converted to bikeway use, crime in the area decreases. Our experience with the Minuteman is consistent with those findings."

    In Providence, Rhode Island, Bill Walter, executive director of the Smith Hill Center maintains that greenspace and community gardens also foster community renewal by building neighborhood spirit. "As is the case with many impoverished urban areas, the residents of Smith Hill previously lacked opportunities to connect with one another. Fear, cultural difference, and language barriers had driven people into their homes. Green space and community gardens have helped bring residents out of their homes by giving them an opportunity to interact with one another." And recent events in California provide additional support for this perspective. In 1992, after the violence in Los Angeles, a survey revealed that 77 percent of neighborhood residents in that city ranked improved parks and recreation opportunities as "absolutely critical" or "important" to their communities.

    ------------
    There is a bunch of stuff related to greenways on the TPL website.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I've also downloaded the file Seabishop mentions. If you can't get it from him, let me know. If greenways invite public use, crime may actually be decreased. Having people use land that might otherwise lay vacant may chase away the undesireables. Crime is less likely to occur when eyes are watching.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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    Cyburbian
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    Thanks, that confirms what I'd suspected and seen in research. It's the Jane Jacobs eye on the street principle. As far as the definition goes, it's pretty broad, because the study trail encompasses most kinds of greenway: linear park, rough trail, water trail, cultural trail, etc. etc. The kind of trail referred to in the conversation is intended to be a cultural or historic trail.
    The files came through ok, by the way. We've got several greenways here, all extensively used. Most of them are the rail-trail conversion or linear park kind. The areas around them have all been revitalized by the presence of more people. I've heard very little negative stuff about greenways, which is why the inquiry had me so puzzled.

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    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    we have greenways, bike trails, walkways...if anything I think it has the opposite affect. ... but people in some areas of the country will continue to say "it will lead to a crime trail" "a place for hoodlums" "a place where cyburbians will gather"... but only the later is true.

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    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Despite my own personal experience of being robbed while biking on a railtrail in Connecticut some 22 years or so ago, I&#39;ve always understood that most recreational greenways are not crime magnets. <_<

    You might want to check with your own police department, and those in other commuties with active greenways for empirical support.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Our experiences: They do not raise the crime rates in terms of incidents per 1000 people. But when you start adding 1000s more people to an area, the absolute number of crimes is likely to rise with that in tandem.

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    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Originally posted by Cardinal@Sep 5 2003, 06:36 PM
    I&#39;ve also downloaded the file Seabishop mentions. If you can&#39;t get it from him, let me know. If greenways invite public use, crime may actually be decreased. Having people use land that might otherwise lay vacant may chase away the undesireables. Crime is less likely to occur when eyes are watching.
    I work in our trails program. Cardinal says it succinctly and accurately. Why are homeowners/business owners so paranoid???

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    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    I used to work in trails, hence the name that I was given by my fellow colleagues - Trail Nazi, and there is no evidence that greenways increase crime. In fact, the crime rate usually drops. Come on, how many people are actually going to use their baby stroller as the getaway vehicle. Hell, many developers/merchants would kill to get on a trail despite the red tape that they sometimes have to go through because it does mean more money for them to earn one way or another.

  12. #12
    How about a cellular phone mast on top of an already anti-social area around a large suburban shopping mall in Dublin, Ireland?

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    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Originally posted by Trail Nazi@Sep 6 2003, 02:27 AM
    Come on, how many people are actually going to use their baby stroller as the getaway vehicle. .
    We need to use this as one of our chapters in our stories. "TRAIL NAZI ROBS BIKE SHOP&#33; ESCAPES WITH LOOT IN BABY STROLLER&#33;"

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    Cyburbian Plus
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    and was speeding away on roller blades pushing one of those hi-tech/yuppie 3 wheeled models.

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    bad me sorry

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    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    Originally posted by JNA@Sep 8 2003, 03:16 AM
    and was speeding away on roller blades pushing one of those hi-tech/yuppie 3 wheeled models.
    Post padder&#33;

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    Shouldn&#39;t it be important to remember that an abandoned rail line can still be a "crime trail"? When I lived in D.C. I frequently saw recalcitrant youths loitering on rusty rail lines. I would rather have a legitimate rail-trail running through my backyard than a pair of rusty tracks where 100% of the people walking up and down them are lawbreakers by virture of trespassing.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    I agree with the eyes on teh street concept but every trail still has to be looked at on its own merits. One alignment we were looking at here put a bikepath on the riverfront right next to a mill being converted into high end condos. The owner was justifiably nervous about junior high students using the path as a shortcut where few people would see them and where they&#39;d disturb his tenants and vandalize property. These kids do act like that and it was a clear shortcut. The state ended up choosing a different alignment.

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    I think the weirdest trail alignment I have ever seen is in Benicia, California a small city on San Pablo Bay. One segment of their Bayside Trail (a series of pocket parks and trail segments) actually follows a private shared driveway, then follows the Bay right next to the structural poles of one of the (raised) houses. The "Bay Trail" is defined by pavers (versus the standard concrete pavement of the driveway). The path must have been put in along with the development (of three houses). But, a very weird experience.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    Originally posted by JNA@Sep 8 2003, 03:15 AM
    and was speeding away on roller blades pushing one of those hi-tech/yuppie 3 wheeled models.
    I really want one of those strollers. If I could only be coordinated enough to rollerblade, push the stroller and walk the dog at the same time, I would be in super shape. I guess I must settle for the Baby Bjorn carrier and walking the dog at the same time.

    I just finished walking on one of the trails here in Reston and it was so nice. The trail that I was on backs up on a row of townhouses where you can look into the houses and watch the families eating dinner together. It is good to see that people still eat dinner as a family.

    There is an area on a Central Florida trail that is in a dodgey area of town that was historically crime ridden. Since the construction of the trail, the safety has improved.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    [quote]Originally posted by Trail Nazi@Sep 8 2003, 11:31 PM
    Quote Originally posted by JNA,Sep 8 2003, 03:15 AM

    I just finished walking on one of the trails here in Reston and it was so nice. The trail that I was on backs up on a row of townhouses where you can look into the houses and watch the families eating dinner together. It is good to see that people still eat dinner as a family.


    I believe that qualifies you as a "peeping Trail Nazi"...

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