A neighborhood in my town has asked the city to consider closing off a couple of streets (creating cul-de-sacs) in order to address two concerns:
First is cut-through traffic - cars detouring through the neighborhood, speeding and ignoring stop signs, in order to avoid the lights on parallel major roads.
Second is crime concerns - if the streets are cut-off, the theory goes, drug and prostitution activity will be reduced because the dealers and johns won't have getaway routes, so they'll go elsewhere.
I've been asked to comment on this idea. My immediate reaction was that it's a bad idea - the best case scenario, after all, is just pushing the crime and traffic to the next block over. (Which some of the neighborhood residents think is just fine, "because that's a major street", but I'm not so convinced it's an improvement at the community level.
Either way - and I am willing to be proven wrong - I'm interested in finding some good case studies or analyses of this kind of action. Does breaking street connectivity reduce crime on the immediate blocks? What are the effects (positive or negative) on a neighborhood- or community-wide level?
What I've got so far:
A search of the forums uncovers plenty of "everybody knows" sort of statements about cul-de-sacs and crime, but I'm not finding where numbers have been discussed before.
This paper from Blakely and Snyder "Separate places: Crime and security in gated
communities" (1998) - pdf suggests that gating / barricading neighborhoods uniformly brings a perception of increased safety, but appears to have slight or no actual reduction of crime.
A 2005 case study Evaluation of Traffic Barricade Impact on Crime in Pendleton: Cincinnati, Ohio (2005) - pdf is a pretty intensive look at one particular street closing. It states no neighborhood-wide reduction in crime that could be attributed to the barricade; while crime and drug activity on that block were reduced, an accompanying increase was seen on the next block parallel..
A paper from the Problem-Oriented Policing Center, Closing Streets and Alleys to Reduce Crime: Should You Go Down This Road? (2005) includes a discussion of about a dozen case studies, noting that street closings seem to generally reduce crime, and often with little to no displacement, though typically other measures were undertaken at the same time that may have been responsible for the effects. Some good citations to look further into.
Does anybody else have any experience with this issue? Any tips? I suppose my recommendation, assuming that the fire and public works departments don't kill the idea, is that street closing be a trial-period solution with a thorough same-month analysis after about six months.