Grounded In Safety

We determined to take back these parks for our customers. Staff committed to rebuild and repair these parks every day if necessary, to bring back the neighborhood.

At the beginning, that is exactly what was done. I quickly saw that this might be a budget-busting effort. The reverse was true.

After six months, these parks became some of the highest used facilities with some of the lowest per capita maintenance costs. Customer satisfaction soared in these neighborhoods. The bad guys didn’t stop doing bad things. They just stopped doing them in these parks.

Tips for Park Design using CPTED

Natural Surveillance

Landscapes – Park landscapes should be designed and maintained to have clear and unobstructed views. This does not mean that you have to clear cut the park to accomplish this goal. It does mean that you should limb up low hanging branches and view your park from the angle of a patron being put upon by an unseen assailant.

Another tip is to consider upgrading your walking and jogging paths. If you make your walking paths at least ten feet wide groups can pass one another without having to step off of the path. More importantly law enforcement can drive their patrol cars along them.

One crusty sergeant once told me that if I thought he was going to get out of his cruiser and stick his head into the bushes of a park at 2 a.m., I had better think again. He intended to live to enjoy his retirement. We currently design our hike and bike trails to a 14-foot width. We use spring loaded bollards so that a police cruiser can gain access by driving slowly over them.

Use landscapes to control and direct activity. We experienced real problems with beach users detouring from our beach board walks into the coastal sand dunes. Worse, visitors were constantly removing coastal vegetation, thus destabilizing these very important buffers. This was quickly controlled after we planted several truck loads of sandspurs among the dune sea oats. Virtually everyone stays on the boardwalks now.

Improve visibility with lighting –- Survey your parks after dark. Even if they are to be closed and gated, light them. Make the interiors more visible. By doing so you may also want to consider creating a Park Watch Program based on the same concepts as Neighborhood Watch Programs. We have had some good success with enlisting adjacent neighbors as extra eyes and ears for local law enforcement agencies.

Avoid the creation of building entrapment areas –- Walk around the enclosed buildings at your parks as you survey them. Are the lower story windows close to the ground? If so they may become access points for thieves. In new design and in retrofitting existing buildings consider placing windows higher on exterior walls on ground floors.

Are there indented areas around enclosed buildings? If so, you are inviting entrapment areas for your patrons and employees. If these areas have ledges or other overhangs you are creating spaces for loitering or other abuses. Challenge designers and architects to deal with these issues. Require them to be knowledgeable on CPTED design issues in public parks.

Natural Access

Ingress/Egress –- One way in… One way out. This is a critical concept for auto traffic patterns. One ingress/egress will discourage speeding. It will also discourage cruising in the park for unlawful purposes. This is because the cruisers will have to double back to exit the park. That gives other patrons two chances to observe and identify abusers.

Meandering Interior Roads –- Straight and level may be good for commercial air travel. It is an invitation for speeding within a park. A meandering internal roadway is safer and much more interesting aesthetically.

Parking –- Locate parking lots on the same side of the park as tot activity. This reduces the likelihood of small children darting out into the path of oncoming vehicles.

Autos — Automobiles are very important to people. I like mine so much that if my bedroom door was wider I would probably park it next to my bed. People like to park as close to their destination as possible. Cars are a base of support for us when we go to the park. They hold all of the things that we take along to make our stay more enjoyable.

Unfortunately, they are a base of support for undesirable activity too. They can hide coolers containing alcohol or other substances. They can contain weapons. In our parks we have many outdoor basketball courts. They are very popular with our young men.

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