One of the most unfortunate consequences of bad urban design is that there is a loss of “eyes on the street” and a concomitant reduction in safety and security. Basically, if there are more people walking around, then the safer people will feel and the more willing they are to walk (holding other factors constant).
You would, then, expect that the NZ Police would be keen to ensure that their own activities do not unintentionally create urban wastelands that increase opportunities for “opportunistic” crime. Unfortunately that is exactly what they seem to be doing in Auckland.
In my opinion, three of Auckland’s ugliest urban wastelands are directly attributable to the activities of the NZ Police. These include the stations on Mayoral Drive and Fort Streets, as well as the heavy vehicle check point on Beach Road (this, incidentally, seems to me to be a prime example of wasteful public sector spending – why does such a low-value activity need to occupy such a high-value site?).
All three of these sites:
- Fail to engage with the street (through, for example, supporting street level retail activities);
- Make no effort to support/encourage pedestrian activity (through for example promoting visibility); and
- Are generally ugly and reduce the degree to which people will linger/enjoy a location (see barbed wire below).
I think it’s a real shame that the good work of the NZ Police does not extend very far when it comes to creating urban areas that are inherently safe and secure. After all, initiatives like installing CCTV cameras are an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff when it comes to preventing crime and/or road accidents.
I suspect we would be vastly better off working towards urban areas that were inherently safe. And one of the best ways to do that is to create enjoyable pedestrian environments.