Don’t walk

Don’t walk.

That’s the stray observation I made this week, after just over a year of reading every single Winnipeg police release.

So many of the crimes that make those releases happened while the victim was walking — about 15%, according to a quick search on the police website.

Of course, there are plenty of convenience store holdups. Acquaintances and family members are each more than twice as likely to murder you as a stranger is, and the numbers for sex assaults are even higher.

But by sheer numbers, bad things happen to people who walk.

Other safety tips I’ve gleaned: Don’t carry beer, especially near beer vendors. Do carry cigarettes — so if you get asked for one, you can oblige. Stay in at night.

Cycling is safer, but not nearly as safe as driving (the likelihood of car crashes aside).

Nothing can change the fact that pedestrians are an easy target. Better urban planning could certainly help — as elucidated by Trevor Wideman (audio link) and Greg Gallinger — but is never going to change the inherent danger. No, really.

I’d wager that many crimes against pedestrians go unreported, too.

Winnipeg isn’t an unwalkable city. Relatively high numbers commute to work on foot, and all the people who aren’t on downtown sidewalks on the weekend seem to be strolling down Wolseley.

But heading to those dead downtown sidewalks — or any dead sidewalks — is straight-up hazardous to your health. It’s maddening: The thing a strong city most needs is almost unreasonable to ask people to do.

Sure, density addresses it — but nothing is going to get more people on small residential streets at night.

Better street lights and fewer shadowy hiding spaces would address it, regular transit through an area helps and so does clustered development — like a SHED, for example — that builds temporary density.

I guess it could be worse: We could be talking about how dangerous it is to be a cab driver.

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One response

  1. I dunno … if you look at motor vehicle injuries and death rates, I’m gonna bet that worse things happen to those who drive than walk.

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