Neighborhood Street Activity and Greenspace Usage Uniquely Contribute to Predicting Crime
30 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2019 Last revised: 10 Jun 2020
Date Written: October 21, 2019
Crime is costly economically, socially, and psychologically for all societies, especially in urban areas. While there are many well-studied environmental and social influences on crime such as poverty and marginalization, one less studied, but important factor is the effect of neighborhood greenspace. Prior research has shown that greenspace is negatively associated with crime, but the mechanism of this effect is debated. One suggested mechanism is that greenspaces increase local street activity, which in turn reduces crime, but past work has failed to examine effects of greenspace and street activity together, making it difficult to decouple these factors. Additionally, past research has typically used the static physical presence of greenspace as opposed to determining residents’ engagement with and use of greenspace, which may be critical to understanding the potential causal role of greenspace on crime. Here, we examine the association of crime with street activity, physical greenspace presence, and active engagement with greenspace as measured by park visits, in Chicago and New York City, USA. Using novel cell phone mobility data, we quantified street activity and park visits by census tracts. In both cities, we found that park visits and street activity significantly and negatively predicted both violent and non-violent crime after controlling for many socio-demographic factors. Each factor explained unique variance in the model, suggesting multiple pathways for the effects of street activity and greenspace on crime.
Keywords: Crime, Environment, Neighborhoods, Greenspace, Street Activity
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