Links between pedestrian safety and crime

Chicago Pedestrian Plan

Safety item 20: Analyze the relationship between pedestrian safety and crime (download the plan)

The 2011 Chicago Pedestrian Crash Analysis identified a strong correlation between community areas with high numbers of pedestrian crashes and community areas with high crime rates. Correlation does not indicate causation and further study is necessary to understand this relationship and the potential broader benefits of pedestrian safety improvements. [From page 62 in the 2012 Chicago Pedestrian Plan.]

ACTIONS

Short Term

  • Identify and obtain funding for this study.
  • Identify a location for safety improvements and obtain data for the “before” conditions.

Mid Term

  • Design and implement pedestrian safety improvements.
  • Develop a pedestrian safety enforcement plan for the area for the duration of the project.
  • Analyze the effects on pedestrian safety and crime.

MILESTONES

  1. Initiate this study by 2013 and complete by 2015.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS). 2011. [I don't fully see the connection, but this reference was linked to a page on NYC Department of Transportation's website.]

Pedestrian Crash Analysis

The summary report didn’t contain the word “crime”. The technical report contained 2 mentions, with an additional chart. They are quoted in the ordered list below. Download the summary report.

  1. In an examination of various factors including crime, income, race, language spoken, and Walk Score®, the strongest correlation found was between pedestrian crashes and crime
  2. Finally, crime statistics were compared to pedestrian crashes to determine if a correlation could be identified, using data from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) annual reports for 2005 through 2009. The annual reports include incidences of crime by Chicago Community Area (CCA). The statistics for the years 2005 through 2009 were averaged and compared to the aver- age number of fatal and serious injury pedestrian crashes over the same time period in each CCA. Of these factors, crime was the only variable that correlated to pedestrian crashes. Figure 1 shows the correlation between crime and pedestrian crashes was very high. However, there may be many variables responsible for this correlation.
  3. Figure 1: Crime vs. Fatal and Serious Injury Pedestrian Crashes by Chicago Community Area

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Figure 1.

I have a few criticisms of this analysis: it lacks raw data; the data tables included in the technical report are of limited length, listing only the “top” items of any metric; the summary report lists many silly factoids; the maps are low resolution and of a limited scale – their design could be modified to improve their usefulness in communicating the crash frequencies of the marked locations. The analysis is reliable.

The technical report includes the state’s guide on how police officers are trained to fill out a crash report form. It also includes relevant crash reporting laws in Illinois. Download the technical report.

Special post for S.M.

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About Steven Vance

Enthusiast for urbanism, bicycling as transportation, and open data. Building a bicycle culture in Chicago.
  • anonymouse

    Needed: Labeling of each data-point with size of communities, and a second graph comparing percapita crime vs. accidents. Otherwise meaningless chart indicating bigger communies have more total incidents, but perhaps same per-capita incidents. This clearly could be extracted by going to the cited source Chicago Police Dept. annual reports for 2005 through 2009, and getting census/population information for the districts.

    Quote:
    “using data from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) annual reports for 2005 through 2009. The annual reports include incidences of crime by Chicago Community Area (CCA). The statistics for the years 2005 through 2009 were averaged and compared to the aver- age number of fatal and serious injury pedestrian crashes over the same time period in each CCA”

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      I agree. Thank you for pointing out this shortcoming in the analysis.