Monday 20 April 2009

Litter and social safety of cyclists

There have been a few posts on other people's blogs lately which have touched on the issue of litter, fly-tipping etc. on the environment for cyclists.

It may seem like a minor issue, but as the BBC pointed out recently, the presence of litter on the streets is one of those things that makes people feel unsafe.

If people feel unsafe on the streets then they won't cycle. This is what is meant by social safety.

For cycling to be popular the environment has to be non-threatening. This means well maintained streets, well maintained cycle paths, a low crime rate etc. This in addition to making cycling routes direct and making cycling feel like a safe thing to do (subjective safety).

I previously covered the aspect of litter by showing how cyclists here are provided with special litter bins for use while cycling.

Update: "Son of Shaft" posted a comment below with a link to a particularly interesting article in New Scientist about related research. Click here to go directly to the article.


Karl McCracken (twitter: @karlonsea) said...

The council here's pretty good on this - lots of bins that are in useful places, and at least daily collections & street pickups.

They're also excellent on the other manifestation of this social safety problem - graffiti. We have a full time graffiti buster van that tours the area, pressure-washing graffiti away as soon as it appears.

Unknown said...

We have many trash bins here, however it seems as if the majority just don't know what there for.
There emptied at best once a week. Most of the time they are over flowing on to the ground or are tipped over spilling any and everything inside on to the ground.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't see garbage on the ground.

As for graffiti, we have a serious problem with that. Most of the time I turn the other way because some of it looks nice, however when people just scribble lines to cover signs up really ticks me off.

We do rank as one of the safer Canadian cities mind you. Violent crime is very rare here.

Son of Shaft said...

Apperently also helps in prefenting/reducing petty crime.

David Hembrow said...

Son of Shaft: Thanks for posting that link, it's a very interesting article and I've updated my post to refer to it.

Gregg said...

In Minneapolis MN, (USA) we had a rash of robberies on the main cycle path.

Very few people knew about it until cycle path advocates persuaded the police to issue a crime bulletin.

The resulting furor caused signs to be posted advising pairing up at night.

This spring, they are starting up citizen patrols of the cycle path to discourage crime and help people feel safe. I am volunteering to be a Trail Watcher for the very reasons you outline above: people won't cycle unless they feel safe.

I'm hoping the patrols both actually reduce crime and make people feel like there is less crime.