Safety & Security

    • horse fountain

No horsin’ around: L+I board upholds sanctions against carriage company

The old-fashioned buggies that pull tourists around Philadelphia’s historic sites are a staple of Old City and Independence Mall. But there may soon be far fewer horses prancing the city streets,…

    • Third Street in Northern Liberties. | Emma Lee/WHYY

Four reasons why Philadelphia is gentrifying

Should the city’s politicians ever come to a consensus on what to do about gentrification, a new paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia offers guidance on how to address…

    • buffered bike lane chestnut

City Councilwoman trying to turn West Philly 'buffered bike lanes' temporary

The first parking-protected bike lane in Philadelphia has been dedicated, but a City Councilwoman is stirring up controversy.  The protected bike lane re-organizes Chestnut Street between 45th and 33rd streets. Instead…



Any social effects of sound urban design were not discussed in the discipline until Jane Jacob’s Death and Life of Great American Cities, in which she drew a direct connection between successful place-making and overall public safety. She argues that in order for all people to feel safe on city streets, an intricate social system is required more than a strong police force. That setting can only be achieved by designing the neighborhood so that there is constant use at all hours and a rich mixture of activities and buildings of different characters. This mix of uses creates an environment where there are always “eyes on the street,” thus making it harder for a crime to occur without repercussion. In her approach of increasing safety through urban design, Jacobs makes other recommendations, including shortening the length of city blocks and mixing buildings of various size and typology, a direct contrast in ideals with those who advocate consistent zoning as a tool to maintain the public’s safety and welfare.
Beyond everyday safety for urban dwellers, professionals must also plan and design for emergencies.  For example, even the coziest of streets must be designed to enable a fire truck to turn and park. Cities must also be built to survive natural disasters. Downtown Miami had to be rebuilt after Hurricane Andrew of 1993, and lots of the renewal used new materials that can withstand even a Category 5 hurricane.  Sanibel Island, Fla., has special design regulations and population ceilings to ensure that all residents can reach safety in case of a hurricane. And now as plans are developed for rebuilding New Orleans, careful attention is paid to development in floodplains, and the role of coastal wetlands and natural storm management systems in a healthy ecosystem.



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