School of Architecture and Civil Engineering

A contribution to the description of pedestrians' perception of safety on inner-city streets.


For planning measures that are to be subjected to an environmental assessment, the draft of the 'Merkblatt für die Berücksichtigung von Urnweltkriterien bei der Verkehrsplanung' of the Forschungsgesellschaft für Straßen- und Verkehrswesen (Research Society for Roads and Traffic) names eleven environmental influences relevant to planning, which are of decisive importance as primary influences.For the primordial environmental criterion 'safety perception' listed in the draft of the Merkblatt, neither a clear definition nor applicable quantification approaches are available so far. The present study is an attempt to derive a quantification approach for the feeling of safety and to test it by way of example by differentiating it from the original criteria of similar topics.The feeling of safety is defined as a variable which, with the aid of more objectively ascertainable parameters of traffic routes, traffic flows and other associated boundary conditions, is intended to explain the subjective feeling of safety or insecurity felt by residents and users as part of their traffic participation as pedestrians when using differently designed roads. As an environmental influence, it is intended to explain the interdependency between the following influencing variables

  • Perception of people when using the road as pedestrians,
  • Behavioral patterns of people in traffic,
  • traffic conditions and
  • road and environment characteristics

establish. The consideration of these influencing factors, which were recorded with the help of various survey methods for individual street sections in inner-city areas, should make it possible to go beyond the evaluation of traffic safety on the basis of accident figures and to take into account the subjective safety demands of the residents on their living environment. The results of the investigations show that when considering all influencing factors of the perception of safety, an interpretable evaluation was made by the surveyed group of people for this area, both for individual street sections and for the distances traveled. In many areas, however, the results are scattered over a very wide range of sensations, and they do not form a suitable basis for evaluating all the roads in a study area. In addition, the statements are only valid for the areas studied and cannot be easily transferred to areas of similar structure. Based on these results, it is not considered possible to use this quantification approach to develop quantification measures for the perception of safety that can be generally applied to inner-city streets.

This Abstract was translated from German with deepL and could be faulty.

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