Neighborhood Street Activity and Greenspace Usage Uniquely Contribute to Predicting Crime

30 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2019 Last revised: 10 Jun 2020

See all articles by Kathryn E. Schertz

Kathryn E. Schertz

Department of Psychology

James Saxon

University of Chicago / Center for Data and Computing

Carlos Cardenas-Iniguez

Department of Psychology

Luís M.A. Bettencourt

University of Chicago; Santa Fe Institute

Marc G. Berman

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology

Date Written: October 21, 2019

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Schertz, Kathryn E. and Saxon, James and Cardenas-Iniguez, Carlos and Bettencourt, Luís M.A. and Berman, Marc G., Neighborhood Street Activity and Greenspace Usage Uniquely Contribute to Predicting Crime (October 21, 2019). Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation Research Paper No. 16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3473331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3473331

Kathryn E. Schertz (Contact Author)

Department of Psychology ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

James Saxon

University of Chicago / Center for Data and Computing ( email )

Chicago, IL
United States

HOME PAGE: http://saxon.cdac.uchicago.edu

Carlos Cardenas-Iniguez

Department of Psychology ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Luís M.A. Bettencourt

University of Chicago

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Santa Fe Institute

1399 Hyde Park Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501
United States

Marc G. Berman

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology ( email )

United States

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