Walking in the ‘burbs: urban planning effecting action and naturalising class?

A not particularly remarkable article I am reading (Cozens 2008) makes mention of the mismatch between the permeable grid style street lay outs promoted by ‘new-urbanism’ and, on the other hand, evidence based crime reduction.

I suppose ‘walking’ has been a bit of a ‘snake oil’ phenomenon, with it sold as the answer to so many problems.

  • Walking as a tool in the fight against obesity.
  • Walking as surveillance, thereby increasing safety and property protection without the government or property owners having to spend any money.
  • Walkers interacting with each other, thereby increasing support networks to reduce demands on government.
  • What is more is that walking also provides fertile ground for urban studies!

Thinking about the centrality of having people out walking to planning within programs such as New Urbanism and Designing Out Crime / CPTED made me wonder if the link has been made between this work and Ingold’s stuff on walking? I am also wondering about possible notions of good versus bad walking. Cozens (2008) does refer to evidence of providing easy access to properties and providing back laneways to take cars out of views as facilitating crime. However, I wonder if there are moves not just to reduce points of access to properties but it there are any tools used to discourage certain types of walking. After all, I do not think it is likely that areas are planned to service people walking up and down the street asking for money.

It is not surprising to find that in the CPTED crime risk evaluation matrix Cozens (2008) adapts from McCamley (2002) a socio economic rating is used called the SEIFA. “This rating includes socio-economic indicators such as levels of educational attainment, occupation structure rates unemployment, levels of home ownership and income and is applied to the area to produce a ‘context rating’” (Cozens 2008: 437). Yes, this is based on work in Australia and it does seem to have a similar whiff to the application of the ICSEA on the MySchool website .

Wow! So many thoughts to come out of a rather dull paper. Maybe I should get bored of reading and just think more often?

Cozens, P. M. (2008). “New Urbanism, Crime and the Suburbs: A Review of the Evidence.” Urban Policy & Research 26(4): 429-444.

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