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Thread: Walk Score

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    Walk Score

    I know this topic has been brought up before, however, I saw this article in the WSJ and found it interesting that even the "upper class" see it as a boon to housing values. One factor I don't think is taken into account in the Walkability score is crime/safety. I may have a variety of amenities with walking distance but if I fear I am to be mugged getting there it's not very walkable.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...45753351641366

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    Sorry the link is no longer there. If the people in charge wish to delete the topic it's fine with me.

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    ndbiker, I live in a very walkable area; score of 86. The thing about crime is, if you're out walking, doing business, visiting friends on their front porches, etc, you're (in a sense taking) back the streets. Your presence as a citizen negates the bad guys, to a degree. Does that make sense? If a critical mass of like-minded citizens are out and about using their own neighborhoods, patronizing the sidewalk cafes, buying from local shops, you and other law-abiders are owning your streets. And you're showing others that by being out there and visible is the best way to do it, rather than being huddled around the blue light of the television indoors, watching CSI.

    /side rant/
    When the husband-unit and I take walks in the neighborhood, and we see tellys blaring in livingrooms, we yell "turn that damn thing off!"

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    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CitiZen View Post
    a critical mass of like-minded citizens are out and about using their own neighborhoods
    Now there's an idea. I always figure when the pedestrians get half as organized as the cyclists, city council will quiver in its boots. Suddenly, sidewalks will be plowed in winter. Policemen will patrol on foot. Kids will start walking to school. You can say hello to your neighbor...

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    Now there's an idea. I always figure when the pedestrians get half as organized as the cyclists, city council will quiver in its boots. Suddenly, sidewalks will be plowed in winter. Policemen will patrol on foot. Kids will start walking to school. You can say hello to your neighbor...
    Truthfully I like the concept. I can remember walking a lot more when I was a kid. I used to feel safe riding my bike for miles to all parts of our town pretty much anytime of the day.

    That being said it seems as if there are more people walking in the streets of any major big city like Detroit or Chicago and yet the crime rate is higher than most small townships or suburbs where the streets roll up at night. Maybe during the daylight more people on the streets will equate to a safer neighborhood but I am not so sure from the national crime statistics that after dark walking doesn't lead to a feeding frenzy to the preditory nature of the muggers and petty thieves.

    Perhaps if you expand on why places like Chicago, Detroit, LA, San Francisco and Seattle have a higher person on person crime rate despite more people walking on the street. I only use those cities because I have been there and experienced the agressive nature of some of my fellow citizens. Only in terms of minor theft of property and hard core pan-handeling.

    PS: and it isn't just Megga cities. I grew up at the Home of Disneyland. And even the streets of that city have seen a large increase in street crime. Drugs, Prostitution, and Mugging.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    Truthfully I like the concept. I can remember walking a lot more when I was a kid. I used to feel safe riding my bike for miles to all parts of our town pretty much anytime of the day.

    That being said it seems as if there are more people walking in the streets of any major big city like Detroit or Chicago and yet the crime rate is higher than most small townships or suburbs where the streets roll up at night. Maybe during the daylight more people on the streets will equate to a safer neighborhood but I am not so sure from the national crime statistics that after dark walking doesn't lead to a feeding frenzy to the preditory nature of the muggers and petty thieves.

    Perhaps if you expand on why places like Chicago, Detroit, LA, San Francisco and Seattle have a higher person on person crime rate despite more people walking on the street. I only use those cities because I have been there and experienced the agressive nature of some of my fellow citizens. Only in terms of minor theft of property and hard core pan-handeling.

    PS: and it isn't just Megga cities. I grew up at the Home of Disneyland. And even the streets of that city have seen a large increase in street crime. Drugs, Prostitution, and Mugging.
    I think you're about 15 years behind the times. Crime rates have been steadily dropping since the early 1990s and continue to decline. This is probably the safest time to walk city streets in an entire generation, if not longer. Certainly it's safer to walk now than it was in the imagined golden era of your childhood.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I think you're about 15 years behind the times. Crime rates have been steadily dropping since the early 1990s and continue to decline. This is probably the safest time to walk city streets in an entire generation, if not longer. Certainly it's safer to walk now than it was in the imagined golden era of your childhood.

    Let me be a bit more specific.
    Maybe they are falling but in LA even after being listed as walk able you are close to twice as likely to be murdered as the national average, a little less likely to be raped, twice as likely to be robbed, twice as likely to be assaulted and twice as likely to suffer some form of violent crime as the national average. But you are correct you are less likely to suffer property crime than the national average. The other cities I mentioned?
    Chicago, In the same order: Compared to the national average, Murder almost 3 times, **** much less than average, Robbed almost 3 times. Assault 2 times. All Violent crime, a bit more than twice the national average.
    Detroit: Murder 5 times the national average, **** 2.5 times the national average, Robbery a bit less than 3 times, Assault a bitless than 3.5 times and all violent crime close to 3.4 times the national average. And unlike the other two cities property crime is higher than average in Detroit.
    Seattle: You are correct violent crime is about average across the board in Seattle, but then Property crime is almost twice the national average there as well.

    This was simply to question the idea that people on the street deter crime simply by being on the street walking. So the question stands, why would there be higher crime in places were more people walk then in Lake Forrest California where hardly anyone walks? That is if walking has as big of an impact as suggested?

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    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    This was simply to question the idea that people on the street deter crime simply by being on the street walking. So the question stands, why would there be higher crime in places were more people walk then in Lake Forrest California where hardly anyone walks? That is if walking has as big of an impact as suggested?
    Robert... most of what I can find seems to agree with what Roody has said. The decline is most evident in larger cities, like NY and LA.Example:
    http://politics.usnews.com/news/nati...e-falling.html
    Take, for instance, the overall drop in homicides. Nationally, the decline was 2.7 percent, but most of that decrease came from major cities like New York (down 20 percent, to 496 homicides) and Los Angeles (down 19 percent, to 380 homicides). Among cities with populations over 1 million, murder rates dropped 9.8 percent. That is a stark contrast to medium-size cities. Those with populations of 100,000 to 249,999 saw a 1.9 percent rise in murder rates. For cities with 50,000 to 99,999 residents, the increase was even greater: 3.7 percent.
    It's very difficult to assign cause-and-effect to a phenomenon like this. Some claim it's because there more sophisticated policework. Others wish to praise walkable streets (LA?) Some say it's because of the large chunk of the population that are kept in jail.

    Sometimes the nearest you'll get to a cause and effect will seem pretty odd. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called The Tipping Point. In it, he discusses how New York managed to clean up crime in the subways in the 1970s. It was shown that when the city underwent a strong program of dealing with filth and graffiti at a subway stop, crime seemed to decrease... This may not have been the real reason or the only reason. It's probably more the result of a number of events... of which graffiti removal (in the 1970s) and more walkable streets (nowadays) are both the most visible cause and result.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    Robert... most of what I can find seems to agree with what Roody has said. The decline is most evident in larger cities, like NY and LA.Example:
    http://politics.usnews.com/news/nati...e-falling.html


    It's very difficult to assign cause-and-effect to a phenomenon like this. Some claim it's because there more sophisticated policework. Others wish to praise walkable streets (LA?) Some say it's because of the large chunk of the population that are kept in jail.

    Sometimes the nearest you'll get to a cause and effect will seem pretty odd. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called The Tipping Point. In it, he discusses how New York managed to clean up crime in the subways in the 1970s. It was shown that when the city underwent a strong program of dealing with filth and graffiti at a subway stop, crime seemed to decrease... This may not have been the real reason or the only reason. It's probably more the result of a number of events... of which graffiti removal (in the 1970s) and more walkable streets (nowadays) are both the most visible cause and result.
    I don't dispute the fact that cities are getting better. I am pointing out that even being more walkable it seems as if stronger enforcement rather than people walking in the streets make for good neighbors. But I guess that was a bit off topic anyway.

    My neighborhood only had a waking score of 52 and it is very safe to walk in. I wondered why the walking score was so low considering just about all the services listed were less than a mile away.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    I don't dispute the fact that cities are getting better. I am pointing out that even being more walkable it seems as if stronger enforcement rather than people walking in the streets make for good neighbors. But I guess that was a bit off topic anyway.

    My neighborhood only had a waking score of 52 and it is very safe to walk in. I wondered why the walking score was so low considering just about all the services listed were less than a mile away.
    With most walk score calculators, other factors are included besides nearness of destinations. These factors include presence and conditions of sidewalks, crosswalks and other facilities, speed of car traffic, one-way streets, and even whether there are trees along the sidewalks.

    I don't have the figures handy, but pedestrians suffer a LOT of injuries and fatalities from cars---much much much higher than the number of casualties from crime. IMO, law enforcement should focus more on traffic than on crime.


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    Are trees a plus or a minus? Cars might be a problem for pedestrians but wouldn't thugs on the street be a problem as well? So if the enforcement moves from violent crime to traffic violations wouldn't that make it harder on people walking on the street?

    I wonder what the walk score of many of the forum members are. Like I said I know mine is 52. I wonder what the OP ndbiker has as a walk score? I wonder if walkable cities are safer cities?

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    My neighborhood -- 5 miles from city center -- is 52 and downtown Des Moines is 71. Although downtown Des Moines doesn't have a grocery store, while my neighborhood does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    My neighborhood -- 5 miles from city center -- is 52 and downtown Des Moines is 71. Although downtown Des Moines doesn't have a grocery store, while my neighborhood does.
    Then I wonder what they base it on? It must be different from sustainable or what a green site would base it on. But then I have discovered that many green sites have a political bent as well as an informative one. It would seem if the places like stores, medical, government would have a lot to do with people walking if they all had easy access.

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    Ha, ha, this is pretty funny. My neighborhood is given a 43 which makes it very car dependent by their system. Anyway, the town of Kailua, with lots of restaurants, stores, a library, and one of the best beaches in the world, is 1.4 miles from my house and there is a road with a bike lane the entire way. Maybe 1.4 miles is a bit of a walk for the average American but it is certainly easy to bike, so they are showing their own bias by calling it Car-Dependent. They could just as easily call it bicycle dependent although I don't think 1.4 miles is a difficult walk. The difference in time to ride in versus drive is negligible because it is only five minutes by bike. I do almost all my domestic errands with the Big Dummy, at this distance even carrying 200 lbs. of groceries is no big deal. And did I mention, 325 days a year the weather is perfect for riding.

    One funny thing, they list the Youth Correctional Facility as a school with a 4:1 student teacher ratio as a school within walking distance ... Also, I don't get any credit at all for the medical center and hospital being only 0.2 miles away. Hey, I crawled to the ER once ...
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    I am still in a 2 range at the farm, which is really about right when you consider that there is no place to walk except in the ditch to get to and from the stores. My in town location has a walk score of 72 which isn't too bad, but they consider the stop and robs ("convenience" stores) grocery stores, which they most definitely are not unless you live on energy drinks, beer, cigarettes, beanie weenies and lottery tickets.

    About taking back the streets...community policing, which includes neighbors looking out for neighbors and being visible, as well as strong enforcement of building codes and property maintenance is proven to make a community more people friendly and keep crime down. Unfortunately when you have a large number of absentee/slum lords owning houses in a given area it is very difficult to make headway, quite often the owners are the local politicians. I fought this battle for several years in one neighborhood I lived in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    I am still in a 2 range at the farm, which is really about right when you consider that there is no place to walk except in the ditch to get to and from the stores. My in town location has a walk score of 72 which isn't too bad, but they consider the stop and robs ("convenience" stores) grocery stores, which they most definitely are not unless you live on energy drinks, beer, cigarettes, beanie weenies and lottery tickets.

    About taking back the streets...community policing, which includes neighbors looking out for neighbors and being visible, as well as strong enforcement of building codes and property maintenance is proven to make a community more people friendly and keep crime down. Unfortunately when you have a large number of absentee/slum lords owning houses in a given area it is very difficult to make headway, quite often the owners are the local politicians. I fought this battle for several years in one neighborhood I lived in.

    Aaron
    Once we start talking about common experience like your post we see a gap between reality and theory. Your concerns and observations sound much like the major thrust of the last Green Goalition meeting I attended. One pet peave one of the attendees had was shopping carts and truck parking on side streets.

    But I still feel that being able to walk to the places you normally go should hold more weight than if there are cars on the road. But then maybe they are saying a neighborhood is walkable simply because people walk there and like akohekohe's area even if they could walk many don't?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    That being said it seems as if there are more people walking in the streets of any major big city like Detroit or Chicago and yet the crime rate is higher than most small townships or suburbs where the streets roll up at night.
    There are so many more people in a metropolis, that the higher count of criminals gets diluted; you aren't likely to run into one because there are too many other people you'll run into first. This of course depends on a lot of things ... you've lived in Seattle, so you know that the unseemly element is more concentrated in Pioneer Square than Madison Park. On the average, though, I live in Eastlake and commute to south of Northgate, passing through the University and several residential neighborhoods along the way. Speaking of crime, I'm still upset that someone cut two of my lily plants on the 4th of July.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    PS: and it isn't just Megga cities. I grew up at the Home of Disneyland. And even the streets of that city have seen a large increase in street crime. Drugs, Prostitution, and Mugging.
    Speaking of drugs, especially, I think that's a problem everywhere. I don't know how much truth there is to the conventional wisdom that meth is big in the middle of nowhere, or that people in suburbs are more heavily medicated than in the city. I think a lot of this is people seeing what they want to believe. If you don't like cities, then any spot in one that isn't well lit seems like a crime den, and vice versa.

    I think the real answer is to seek out what's good for you, and enjoy that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    There are so many more people in a metropolis, that the higher count of criminals gets diluted; you aren't likely to run into one because there are too many other people you'll run into first. This of course depends on a lot of things ... you've lived in Seattle, so you know that the unseemly element is more concentrated in Pioneer Square than Madison Park. On the average, though, I live in Eastlake and commute to south of Northgate, passing through the University and several residential neighborhoods along the way. Speaking of crime, I'm still upset that someone cut two of my lily plants on the 4th of July.



    Speaking of drugs, especially, I think that's a problem everywhere. I don't know how much truth there is to the conventional wisdom that meth is big in the middle of nowhere, or that people in suburbs are more heavily medicated than in the city. I think a lot of this is people seeing what they want to believe. If you don't like cities, then any spot in one that isn't well lit seems like a crime den, and vice versa.

    I think the real answer is to seek out what's good for you, and enjoy that.
    In my youth I worked for the PI for a while. I used to commute by motorcycle of all things to Bellevue. I know what getting wet is all about. I also can remember what the streets of south Seattle were like after dark and people walking didn't make it any nicer.

    My reference to big cities in this case was simply to point out that increased walking on the streets by citizens doesn't seem to clean up a neighborhood. But that turned into a topic drift. Even if it was related to the OPs first post.
    But there seems to be a disconnect between what is a good walking/bike riding area and what isn't. I have lived in small communities with horrid walking scores yet if you rode your bike to the local store and simply locked it up with a small cable lock your chances of getting it back were pretty good. Here in these forums we hear how great it is to live in places like New York and what a good walking score it might have yet no one would think about leaving a nice bike on the street without a case hardened U-lock that weighs 10 pounds.

    I am not a big city person I freely admit. I like my space and the quietness of the evening far too much. But like I said I have lived in big cities, small towns and medium sized suburbs and I have had more things taken from my car including tires in larger cities than I ever had in the burbs or townships. Where I live now they actually seem to fight grafitti when I was in Chicago it looked like they didn't much care. My question would be if foot traffic had any effect on crime why would places with more foot traffic have so much grafitti? I know we don't have the answer and I know most people don't really care it is just that when you hear statements that if more people were walking there would be less crime it makes one wonder why someone would think that?

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Crime is one important factor in walkability--but one of several. I think it's a great topic, and Robert has lots of interesting things to say; it deserves it's own thread.


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    'Walkability' is about way more than just people out walking... it affects WHO is walking, and WHERE they're going.

    If all the people out walking are miscreants with nothing to do and nowhere to go, then yes.... crime will be high.

    On the other hand, if everyone is out walking, socializing, living life, then crime will most likely be pretty low... the majority of the people out will be law abiding citizens going about their lives... which means more eyes to see if someone is breaking into a car, mugging someone, or whatever, and thus a greater likelihood that the police will be notified or other action taken to intervene.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmclaughlin807 View Post
    'Walkability' is about way more than just people out walking... it affects WHO is walking, and WHERE they're going.

    If all the people out walking are miscreants with nothing to do and nowhere to go, then yes.... crime will be high.

    On the other hand, if everyone is out walking, socializing, living life, then crime will most likely be pretty low... the majority of the people out will be law abiding citizens going about their lives... which means more eyes to see if someone is breaking into a car, mugging someone, or whatever, and thus a greater likelihood that the police will be notified or other action taken to intervene.
    That is great in theory but I have seen studies where they have a person fall down on a busy street and people will walk around them for many minutes before anyone takes notice. (I know I watch too much real TV as well) I happened to be on a bus in San Francisco once I watched as this very thing happened.

    I will grant you the people walking in the street weren't socializing so there might not be a direct connection. They were busy not making eye contact and rushing to or from where ever they were going.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    That is great in theory but I have seen studies where they have a person fall down on a busy street and people will walk around them for many minutes before anyone takes notice. (I know I watch too much real TV as well) I happened to be on a bus in San Francisco once I watched as this very thing happened.

    I will grant you the people walking in the street weren't socializing so there might not be a direct connection. They were busy not making eye contact and rushing to or from where ever they were going.
    From what little bit I have observed that seems to be a phenomenon reserved primarily for larger cities. I have observed similar situations in many small and medium sized towns around the country and it seems that the opposite occurs.

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    I have a walk score of 98

    Unfortunately, I can understand why you would avoid someone who fell down on the street. I walk everywhere and I can't tell you how many stories I have heard to try and get money out of me. Way too many people are trying to scam the honest, hard working people that those of us in cities quickly learn to ignore people asking for help.

    Yeah it is a little calloused, but if I stopped and helped everyone who asked, all of my paychecks would be doing nothing but fund people's drug habits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hnsq View Post
    I have a walk score of 98

    Unfortunately, I can understand why you would avoid someone who fell down on the street. I walk everywhere and I can't tell you how many stories I have heard to try and get money out of me. Way too many people are trying to scam the honest, hard working people that those of us in cities quickly learn to ignore people asking for help.

    Yeah it is a little calloused, but if I stopped and helped everyone who asked, all of my paychecks would be doing nothing but fund people's drug habits.
    It seems as if you have the high of 98 with the low being 2 someone posted earlier. Are you accosted often while out walking? I was in New York once and a pan handler followed a woman for at least two blocks till she walked into a hotel with a doorman. They he waited outside to see if she was coming back out. I talked to a local about it and he said it was almost a matter of pride to some of them that they had to get something, no matter how small, out of everyone they walked up to. I don't know how true that is because I haven't had that problem very often except for the rare parking lot or airport contact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    It seems as if you have the high of 98 with the low being 2 someone posted earlier. Are you accosted often while out walking? I was in New York once and a pan handler followed a woman for at least two blocks till she walked into a hotel with a doorman. They he waited outside to see if she was coming back out. I talked to a local about it and he said it was almost a matter of pride to some of them that they had to get something, no matter how small, out of everyone they walked up to. I don't know how true that is because I haven't had that problem very often except for the rare parking lot or airport contact.
    I have never had a problem. Honestly, it really has to do with how you present yourself when walking. As harsh as it sounds, you get accosted/harassed when you show any sympathy for panhandlers. When I am approached I either ignore the person completely or say "I will buy you a sandwich but I won't give you money, take your pick". If they try to come up with an excuse why they should get money, I turn and walk away. Having a no-nonsense/I don't have time for this attitude keeps panhandlers at bay for me. I have friends who stop and actually listen to people's stories and show sympathy for their situations and more often than not they are the people who are hounded and harassed for money.

    Again - I know it sounds cold to give the advice of not showing sympathy, but those who are truly in need will immediately take the fast food/slice of pizza/sub I offer to buy and those who are just scamming immediately have a backup story to get cash. Also - the same people are on the street asking for money every day. They really don't ask locals for money as much. If a guy sees me walking by every day and I have NEVER given him anything, he learns to stop asking. I think tourist/visitors/people in for dinner/etc. are accosted a lot more than locals because of this.

    I don't know if that answered your question, but I hope it did...

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