An Empirical Analysis of the Link Between Built Environment and Safety in Chicago’s Transit Station Areas
Journal of the American Planning Association
Problem, research strategy, and findings: Considering that safety is a key environmental factor that promotes health, understanding the relationship between built environment features around transit station areas and crime may shed light on how to foster healthy communities. Yet, there is limited work that has examined how the combination of different built environment features around transit correlate with different crimes. We addressed this issue in this study using data from Chicago (IL). First, we used cluster analysis to classify stations in Chicago in a spectrum from transit-oriented development (TOD) to transit-adjacent development (TAD) categories depending on their built environment characteristics: central business district (CBD)–TOD, TOD, hybrid, and TAD. Then, we identified the block groups that fell within a 1-mile network distance of each of these station areas and used propensity score matching to find adequate comparison block groups for them. Results from our analyses show that CBD station areas with the highest activity density, land use diversity, amenity richness, accessibility, and walkability (i.e., CBD–TOD) were the safest. In contrast, TOD areas with medium activity density and land use diversity but high amenity richness, walkability, and accessibility appeared to be the least safe. That said, low levels across these built environment features as found in TAD station areas also correlated with higher crime. Takeaway for practice: These findings suggest the importance of balancing amenity richness and accessibility with density and land use diversity. Areas rich in amenities but with lower levels of land use diversity and density may attract crime victims and offenders while facilitating spaces in which the availability of eyes on the street or guardians is low. As such, these station areas may be poor promoters of healthy communities if high crime rates deter people from engaging in active mobility promoted by greater walkability, connectivity, and amenity richness.
built environment, crime, healthy communities, safety, transit-oriented development
Urban and Regional Planning
Ahoura Zandiatashbar and Agustina Laurito. "An Empirical Analysis of the Link Between Built Environment and Safety in Chicago’s Transit Station Areas" Journal of the American Planning Association (2023): 225-239. https://doi.org/10.1080/01944363.2022.2069590