Urbanisation has become an inevitable aspect of modern life. However, since this contradicts with the evolutionary construction, there is no doubt that we are affected in many ways: physically, socially and psychologically.

Many years ago, a research study by Kou and Sullivan revealed that as the city’s green area ratio increased, the rates of aggressiveness and anger among people living in that city decreased.  A more recent study by Li and Li, on the other hand, highlights the relationship between the perception of feeling safe and green space rate. Using Google Street View images and 135 high-density residential, 149 urban public/institutional, 50 transportation, 182 commercial, 69 industrial and 49 open lands, they aimed to specify which places were safer than the others. The findings are interesting: the visibility of the vegetation was directly related to the sense of safety. In other words, as the green rate increased, perception of feeling safe also increased. Especially in the residential, institutional, commercial and open spaces where vertical vegetation was higher than 2.5 m, the relationship was higher. However, this was not the case for commercial and industrial land. That is, perception of safety in commercial and transportation areas did not rise considerably, even if vegetation rate was high.

Those of us living in the city perceive the presence of green as an assurance source. Donovan and Prestemon, in their research, showed that people living in the city relate the increase in the crime rate to the intensity of the green areas. As the lengths of the trees and the abundance of greenery increased, the city was perceived as being more secure and having less crime rate. Thus, if a person wants to live in a city where greenery value is a lot, s/he would automatically think that in this city, crime rate is most probably lower than other cities where the green is not that much wide.

We know from many research studies that nature contributes to the physical and psychological wellbeing of people. Can it also decrease the crime rate and safety in the cities? Well, although more research is needed, there is some evidence that it indeed might. Green spaces should receive the attention it deserves in city planning.

For further reading

Donovan, G. H., & Prestemon, J. P. (2012). The effect of trees on crime in Portland, Oregon. Environment and Behavior, 44(1), 3-30.

Kuo, F. E., & Sullivan, W. C. (2001). Aggression and violence in the inner city: Effects of environment via mental fatigue. Environment and behavior, 33(4), 543-571.

Li, X., Zhang, C., & Li, W. (2015). Does the visibility of greenery increase perceived safety in urban areas? Evidence from the place pulse 1.0 dataset. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 4(3), 1166-1183.

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