Next Stop, Security: Understanding What Makes Women Feel Safe In Public Transportation Stations
While considerable research has been done on women's heightened fear of public transportation, little research has been devoted to the role of the built environment and its impact on women's perceptions of personal safety. This is particularly true in the United States which is significantly behind other countries on the issue of transit safety for women. This study, which focused on subway platforms, questioned the effectiveness of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) in alleviating these fears and, specifically, what women find to be important when assessing the perceived safety of an environment. An online survey was the method of data collection. Participants provided demographic and travel behavior information. They were also asked to rank the importance of eight common security tactics and strategies. Lastly, participants were shown photos from the Washington DC, Chicago, and New York City subway systems and asked to rate their level of satisfaction with their overall sense of personal safety, sightlines, and security hardware. Data analysis revealed that the design of the subway platform influences user's perception of personal safety. Female participants scored personal safety in the Washington Metro higher than the older Chicago and New York City subway systems. Respondents ranked "lighting" and "other passengers" as the first and second most important characteristics. Other common crime prevention tools such as security cameras and emergency phones were ranked fourth and fifth place, respectively. There were no significant differences in ranking between male and female participants. Research findings support the popular assumption among transit authorities that female passengers prefer the presence of police officers over any security hardware. The paper ends a recommendation to reduce the amount of finding dedicated to the purchasing of security hardware technology.
women; public transportation; fear of victimization
Evans, Gary William
Diciccio, Thomas J
M.S., Human-Environment Relations
Master of Science
dissertation or thesis