The relationship between suburban design, perceptions of safety, and walking

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] The Safety and Walking Study aimed to investigate the interplay between urban design, crime and perceived safety, and walking in the local neighbourhood. The study comprised three distinct but connected objectives: (1) to examine the house design and upkeep attributes of residential streets that limit physical disorder, thus contributing to a convivial walking environment; (2) to explore the neighbourhood characteristics associated with fear of crime, with a specific focus on the physical environment; and (3) to examine the relative importance of fear of crime as a deterrent to walking, when other individual, social and physical environmental variables are examined. The results are structured as a series of discrete studies, presented in chapters. The Safety and Walking Study was part of the larger RESIDential Environments (RESIDE) Project, a five year longitudinal study designed to evaluate the impact of urban design on health. The premise that residents will react to neighbourhood crime or feelings of insecurity by limiting their physical activity seems plausible, however evidence confirming this relationship is inconsistent. Chapter 2 adopts a social-ecological framework to explore the quantitative evidence linking crime-related safety, and factors that influence crime and perceived safety, with constrained physical activity. In part, this chapter frames these inconsistencies as a product of the conceptualisation and measurement of ‘safety’ across different studies. Chapter 2 is a published manuscript. Chapter 3 introduces the study context and methods. The sample comprised residents (n=1059) living in new suburban housing developments (n=74) in the Perth metropolitan area, Western Australia. Results from the literature review informed the development and testing of the Neighbourhood Safety Questionnaire (Chapter 4). After the main data collection, established scales were recreated, and new scales developed using factor analysis
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2009

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