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Creating Safer Communities through Urban Interventions
MAITREYI YELLAPRAGADA 12AR60R21 MCP 2012-14
URBAN DESIGN TERM PAPER
In the recent years, with the advent of immense opportunities in the cities, the criteria for most women in choosing a city to live in greatly dependent on the factor of ‘how safe the city is for its women’. At today’s date, it is observed that more women are migrating to the urban areas in search of work and a better quality of life. This actuates the formulation of an intangible safety index that determines the livability factor of women in the urban areas. These urban areas cannot afford to be tagged as unsafe as it will result in negative implications on the development of the economy and the social structure. Urban security is an important issue in light of the increasing gender-based violence towards women who are targeted mainly because of their vulnerability. Women and men experience spaces differently. It is observed that women’s access to the public realm has not been audited in an appropriate manner and the priorities of development have at many occasions remained the public interest at large but bereft of the minor needs and requirements from the side of the womenfolk. The present trend needs to be modified inorder to accommodate and make a positive space for women in the society. It is believed that small interventions and sensitivity towards these issues that are a matter of great concern (and sometimes fear) for women can help in evolving spaces of a better order. And as a consequence lead to creation of spaces that all genders can connect and experience. The following study attempts to comprehend the issues that usually entangle women and suggest solutions to resolve these issues with an urban design perspective.
Key Words: Public realm, mobility, safety, security, natural surveillance, lighting, landuse, sightlines, safety audit, women participation, landscaping, built environment, fear of transit, urban design and planning.
1. Introduction 1.1 Issue of Safety and Security 1.2 Reason for Fear 2. The Changing trend 2.1 Safe City for Women Module 3. Women and the Public Realm 3.1 Women’s experience of safety in public realm 3.2 Women’s experience and use of public realm 4. Role of Urban Design in the Safety of the Public Realm 5. Fear of the Public Realm 6. Fear of Transit 7. Design Issues pertaining to Public Realm 8. Women Friendly Cities – Case Study I 9. Guidelines by UrbSpace – Case Study II 10. Safe Delhi Campaign 11. Conclusions 12. Bibliography
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Our Living environments reﬂect our culture, values, lifestyle and relationships and define the relation between us and various urban functions. These environments belong equally to the women and men who live in them and play an increasingly important part in organizing and providing services to them especially in the context of urbanization. After their long association with only domestic activities, women have gradually moved into the public arena. The urban setting must adapt to this cultural and social change, and cities must now deal with the changing status of women. Built environments also play a very important role in influencing and guiding the behavior of human beings. Proposal of a certain typology of activities or use in a specific location can wither result in the growth of the socio-cultural environment of the place or sometimes it can directly affect the rise of antisocial elements in the spaces. Planning and design of public spaces should always consider the safety and security which further increase their effective usage. It is often believed that urban design can be utilised as a tool to alter and modify spaces to improve their overall quality of spaces for all genders. 1.1 Issue of Safety and Security: In the present day scenario, Urban Design and Planning studies are gathering sensitivity to the gender perspectives in response to the past tendency to exclude the experiences of women in urban space when defining, interpreting and acting upon planning issues. Tertiary Planning courses are now including subjects such as Gender and Planning aiming to explore, examine, analyze and challenge conventional planning thought and practice from the perspective of gender (Ferretti, 1997). Today, Women and community safety with respect to the urban design is evolving into the new focus point world wide.
Leavitt (in 1986) stated that ‘Women face problems of such significance in cities and society that gender can no longer be ignored in planning practice’. Cooper Marcus Sarkissian (in 1986) and Stimpson et al. (in 1981) also wrote on the importance of gender as a focus in planning practice.
It is often expressed that men and women experience spaces differently. The spaces meant to be safe by men need not be comprehended the same way by women. This leads to a disparity in the design and calls for a cohesive approach inorder to make spaces equally accessible to all. 1.2 Reason for fear: Women usually express fear as a common element when they experience spaces and hinders their participation in the public realm. It also moderates the way in which women use and respond to spaces. The same was expressed by Valentine in 1989 – “Feminist perspectives on the patterns of inequality in both space and culture, acknowledge fear to be a more important concept in the theory of social control than violence itself”. Fear is a major factor that restricts women from participating in the public life. The fear can only eliminated when the issues and concerns are dealt in the urban design of spaces and thus creating an environment which is safe and secure and which also aims at increasing the use of spaces by women and thus bringing women outside of their homes. The design of the public realm has been shown by research in the UK (Valentine 1990) to be a major influence on women’s sense of safety in that space. This is a hindrance to women Withdrawing them from the ability to enjoy the use of urban areas during the day and after hours in particular. Many beliefs are attached to certain localities and the women are particularly warned from accessing such localities. This attitude towards such places needs transformation.
2. The Changing Trend – Need for Study
Prior to understanding the issues that lie in the safety and security of women, it is essential to empathize to the need for a change in existing ideology of a public realm. Today, it is evident that a large number of educated Indian women have stepped out of their homes in search of opportunities. This is a welcome change. It is seen that 62% of women in the country are illiterate and there is very low 42% female participation in the total workforce. Only 18% of women are part of the organized labor sector, and only 20% of these are employed in urban areas. Women workers in the new IT-related occupations are only 0.3% of urban women workers. Although, the number of women pursuing professional careers is still very small, the trend is expected to grow and in a drastic manner. Despite their small numbers in the overall picture, the Indian women professionals of today are seen as the trend-setters of the future. Insecurity and the threat of violence prevent women from participating as full and equal citizens in community life. Women have a “right to the city.” When this right is not realized, women and girls face significant obstacles to educational, economic, and political opportunities. The UN Women, Safe Cities Module underlines certain parameters for one to consider a city to be safe for women. 2.1 A Safe city for Women and Children according to the Safe Cities Module is: -A city where women and girls can enjoy public space and public life without the fear of being assaulted. - A city where violence is not exercised against women and girls in wither home or street. -A city where women and girls are not discriminated against and where their economic, social, political, and cultural rights are guaranteed. -A city where women and girls participate in making decisions that affect the community in which they live. -A city where the state guarantees the human rights of all people without excluding women and girls. -A city where the state and local government take actions to provide attention, prevention, and punishment, for violence against women and girls. - A city where the state and local government guarantee women’s and girls’ access to justice. Of the above parameters it is evident that first criteria in making cities safer aims at getting women out of their households and encouraging them to participate in all important decisions which affect the community at large. The initial step to achieve this is to make our public realm competent enough to cater to the requirements of the women of our society.
3. Women and the Public Realm
3.1 Women’s Experience of Safety in the Public Realm As mentioned earlier, women and men experience spaces differently. The feeling of safety and fear is also relatively different and higher in women. It depends on the location, time of the day, maybe the mode of transport, the urban setting, sometimes pre-conceived notions regarding a place. Women have a mental list which indicates strict dos and do not’s in the urban realm. This drastically affects their lifestyle and their daily routine as well. This triggers the extensive need to consider the thoughts and intellections of women in the process of design or planning to carry off fear from their mindsets. 3.2 Women’s experience and use of the Public Realm The accessibility of women to the public realm depends on the mobility, that is in terms of availability of a secure transportation mode and secondly in terms of safety of the mode/ transit hub. The journey of women when mapped is seen to be more complex than men owing to the functions they perform (shopping, running errands, picking up children, work etc). Women are mostly pedestrians as they usually have to cover lesser distances. The public spaces visited by women are mostly shopping centre, parks, schools, residential areas and the transit links which are the areas most known for a higher crime rate. Thus, it is necessary to maintain functions in these spaces throughout the day and avoid inactivity. The links to these spaces are sometimes isolated and induce fear among women. Shopping centres, parks etc are usually isolated as women visit these spaces during the off-peak hours. Integrating these spaces with activities that attract a larger section of population to these spaces such that they are under constant vigilance. Major issues concern isolated alleys, car parks, bus stands etc, i.e mostly the transportation system to the public realm.
4. Role of Urban Design in Safety of Public Realm
Valentine (1990) asserts that ‘by facilitating a perception that a physical space is informally controlled the design and layout of public space can increase women’s confidence in going out’. She proposed ten design strategies, concerning location, visibility at doorways, lighting, painting walls, footbridges, alleyways/subways, landscaping, ground floor development, and corners/dogleg bends. She also states that 1. Women feel safer in the actual or potential presence of others because they of the assumption that offenders will be deterred by the possibility of bystander intervention’. Although bystanders sometimes fail to intervene and act in case of any uneventful situation, yet the presence of crowd gives a feeling of security to them. 2. The feeling of safety is also dependent on the perception of women towards the space. If a woman is acquainted with her physical and social surroundings, then she is at ease and does not hold any anxiety or concern in such spaces. 3. Land use planning policies influence the level of use of public places and the nature of users and planning and urban design can influence the processes of control and management.
Sensitivity towards the concern of women in urban design can contribute to the quality of spaces by leaps and bounds. Urban Design of public realms do not pose a danger to women directly but their genesis should consider the recognizing the pertinent dangers and the impacts Of such spaces on the psychology of women residing in the society.
5. Fear of the Public Realm
The fear amongst women can be said to emanate from two parameters – 1. The Vulnerable Elements: it describes the various elements/ features in a setting which the users are associated with . The elements include spaces such as parks, shopping complexes, car parks, open spaces, institutions, transport facilities, banks, restaurants, atm’s and all other places or locations meant for public usage. 2. The Vulnerable Setting: it includes the backdrop or the surrounding scenario such as isolated or open spaces. It basically highlights the condition of the place.
There are four principles which can be applied to eliminate fear from the mindsets of women almost immediately: 1) Natural Surveillance: Attempt to make spaces safer through continuous vigilance at all times of the day by proposing activities/ landuses that keep the spaces active throughout the day. This discourages anti-social behaviour and instills a feeling of safety. 2) Access Control: Controlling and surveillance of the public spaces through regulating the entry/ exit locations through physical or visual barriers. 3) Ownership: Spaces that are owned by a certain authority are continuously under vigilance and thus give a feeling of security. The authorities are meant to act responsibly for the events and activities in such spaces. Thus, such spaces are accessed with ease in comparison to spaces which are not taken care of. 4) Maintenance: One feels safe and secure in areas which are maintained and seem to be regulated constantly. The feeling towards areas that are taken care of are very positive and thus eliminate the fear of anti-social elements. This does not indicate complete safety but least it contributes towards the fear factor.
6. Fear of Transit
Transportation systems are the key to urban life, enabling women to access healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. For too long, women have been ignored in urban transport planning and design. The fear of transit is very prominent amongst all the others. Research suggests that women are more likely to: -Walk or use less expensive transportation means - Use off-peak and peripheral public transport routes and - Feel unsafe and be at risk of violence while using urban public transport Gender Inclusive urban transport include the need to: -Examine the gendered impact of urban transport planning – for example, a focus on improving major transport corridors into a city centre is more likely to favour men, whereas women benefit more from transport improvements within peripheral areas. -Design urban transport infrastructure that reflects women’s needs, including safety -Integrate formal and informal public transport -Develop strategies to encourage more women into the urban transport workforce A survey conducted by the Department of Transport, London, UK, in 2004 highlighted various aspects that assimilated a sense of fear of transit with respect to both women and men. The findings of the report with respect to women and men as they travelled along various modes are as follows. -62% women and 31% men felt unsafe walking in multi-story parking. - 61% women and 32% men felt unsafe waiting on underground station platforms. -60% women and 25% men felt unsafe waiting on train platforms. -59% women and 25% men confessed of feeling insecure while walking from the bus stop or station and 48% women and 20% men felt unsafe while walking to the bus stop or station. - 49% women and 20% men felt unsafe while waiting at the bus stop. - 51% women and 20% men felt unsafe while travelling by train. - 51% women and 21% men felt unsafe while walking on a surface parking lot. - 40 % women and 18% felt unsafe while travelling by bus. Thus, it is gathered that the meticulous design of transport systems and the network is a fundamental aspect that governs the safety and security of citizens. A good public transport systems can also widen women’s employment opportunities. Women are more likely to become dependent on public transport, particularly in low income communities and a good transport system can enhance their participation in the urban sphere. Better mobility can contradict the spatial stereotypes and improve the quality of life of women in the public realm.
7. Design Issues pertaining to the Public Realm
Viewing at the concerns from an Urban Design perspective, it is clearly evident that small aspects in design of the public spaces can become a reason for worry. A few Design Issues as highlighted by the Baulkham Hills Shire Council, in their manual on Designing Safer Communities are explained below.
1. Natural Surveillance
Natural surveillance and vigilance of spaces is an issue at many locations either as a fallout of failure in appropriate activity demarcation or inability on the part of authorities to regulate. Natural surveillance plays a significant role in crime prevention. In a case were natural surveillance is not possible then it can be supplemented by formal surveillance through security guards, cameras and police.
Objectives • To encourage natural surveillance from and to surrounding land uses. • To encourage natural surveillance by encouraging legitimate land use. • To provide clear sightlines for pedestrian movement.
Natural Surveillance can be achieved by the provision of unobstructed views, appropriate lighting, maintaining permeability of visual/ physical barriers such that one can look across. This discourages crime as the probability of being identified is higher in a vigilant environment and the rate of anti-social activities will also fall. Solutions • Thus, one should avoid incorporating blind corners and alcoves. • Designers should ensure there is suitable visibility to areas of high risk, especially around entrances, stairwells and toilet areas. • Ensure that pedestrians can see what is in and what is at the end of underpasses, tunnels and corridors. • Use of visibly permeable security grills rather than solid shutters. Sightlines • Ensure that pedestrians can see through or past barriers. • Where possible, paths should have curves rather than sharp turns or provide safety mirrors to help observe what is around the corner. • Ensure that sightlines will not become blocked as landscaping matures, or by moveable objects, such as awnings. Surveillance • Ensure that windows (rather than blank walls) overlook pedestrian areas. • Ensure that windows overlook pathways, entrances to buildings and car parks. • Ensure that communal focal points, such as letter boxes in town house complexes are under natural surveillance. • Locate pedestrian, cycle and vehicular roadways adjacent to each other to maximise surveillance. • Dwellings with unobstructed sightlines overlooking open space.
Lighting is one of the most imperative aspects in the process of drawing guidelines for safety of women. Good lighting can contribute very effectively in the reduction of crime. Well-lit zones also give a sense of safety as it helps in identifying the space and assists one associating oneself with that space. Lighting is always considered in all designs but the maintenance and operations of lighting equipment is usually neglected. This is a matter of concern as it completely fails all the efforts taken in this regard. Lighting plays an important role in crime prevention at night and in dark, isolated and underground areas. Poorly lit areas can contribute to anti-social activities. Objectives • To provide appropriate lighting for activities after dark. • To encourage the use of appropriate light fixtures. • To encourage the appropriate location of lighting. Solutions • All lighting must be inline with the relevant Standards. • Ensure that lighting is appropriate for the situation and intended use of open space. • Ensure that lighting is appropriate for the local conditions. • Ensure that high use areas are suitably lit and that the lighting allows good visibility.
Signages form an essential component of urban design and street furniture. The signages, by providing a fair idea of the location of a place help in navigating and empower women with a sense of direction despite being located in an unknown domain. Objectives • To provide clear and readily available signage. • To provide signage in appropriate locations. Signage plays an important role in identifying locations and restricting or permitting access. Clear and accessible signs help people identify and quickly find their destination without unnecessary delay or place themselves at risk. Solutions • Signs should be legible, written in an appropriate font and size and with clear contrasting colours. • Locate signs at entrances, exits and activity zones. • Ensure that enough signage is provided to help people arrive at their destination. • Ensure there are signs that identify amenities such as telephones, help points and to public facilities such as taxi ranks. • Illuminate signs that are essential for night use. • Ensure that growing vegetation and moveable objects will not hide signs. • Incorporate braille signs at appropriate locations. • Ensure that signs do not create hiding or risk spaces. • Ensure that signs are facing the general flow of pedestrian traffic. • Use internationally acceptable signage where possible. Maintenance • Ensure signs are not easily damaged and are out of reach of vandalism. • Ensure that signs cannot be easily moved or removed.
Landscaping plays an important role in making an area aesthetically pleasing, attracting activities, and in turn increasing natural surveillance and reducing anti-social behaviour. Landscaped areas, parks are the zones which women fear maximum after dusk. They are visually segregated spaces and need to be integrated holistically into the surroundings. Objectives • Create aesthetically pleasing but safe environments. • Create easy to maintain and vandal resistant areas. • Reinforce natural surveillance and sightlines. Solutions • Ensure that paths are not located near dense shrubbery or concealment spaces. • Ensure that paths are suitable for people to move along quickly. • Ensure that sightlines and natural surveillance are maintained. • Ensure that adequate lighting and signage have been provided. • Incorporate play equipment, stepping stones, gazebos etc to encourage human activity in the area. • Ensure fences above 1 metre incorporate open elements to provide sightlines. Vegetation • Grade plantings so that taller vegetation is to the back of garden beds. • Avoid placing medium and tall plantings near entrances and exits. • Avoid creating screens that could prevent natural surveillance. • Use sturdy and advanced plants to increase their chance of survival.
5. Land Use
The landuse of a place dictates the scope of activities that occur and it is observed that when landuse zoning is applied to a particular place, the role and response of women and sometimes men are given complete disregard. The spaces are gender blind and follow an approach that what is convenient for men is comfortable for women too. Planning the landuse is very important and so is integrating it holistically with a location such that it provides for the safe accessibility for all and connectivity to all other zones besides being a very active zone. By encouraging mixed land uses, a greater level of natural surveillance can be created. Mixed land use comprising both residential and non-residential activities can increase the spread of business hours during which people activities can occur. Mixed uses have to be considered carefully to ensure that the mixes are compatible. Objectives • To promote natural surveillance and minimize illegitimate activities. • To create a mix of activities which will result in greater level of natural surveillance around the clock. Solutions • Promote uses that support both day and night activities to encourage longer surveillance hours, i.e mixed landuse. • Do not isolate certain land uses or facilities. • Ensure the scale of development and the range of uses is appropriate for the neighbourhood.
6. Building Design
The building design has to adhere to the concerns that women face with respect to isolated spaces and corners such as in the parking lots, shopping complexes in off-peak hours etc. It is essential to integrate the built spaces with the un-built in a manner such that the privacy of the built space is maintained maybe visually but, the outdoors are easily accessible from the interiors of the built environ. Safety issues need to be considered at the first stages of building concepts and design.
Objectives • To integrate public buildings with public space. • To use buildings to support natural surveillance. • To reduce vandalism and graffiti • To reduce safety problems. Solutions • Ensure that all entrances and exits are secure, well lit and clearly visible from the street. • Ensure that entrances and exits do not promote loitering. • Avoid designing features, such as fin walls that create entrapment spaces. • Locate facilities such as toilets in appropriate locations and not in isolated areas. • Avoid features that enable climbing. • Avoid blank external walls. • Ensure that lights minimise shadows. • Ensure that landscaping is appropriate. • Ensure that developments address all street frontages. • Position habitable rooms to maximise natural surveillance. Natural Surveillance • Ensure that there are clear sightlines from windows and doors. • Use glass in lobbies so that people can see both in and out. • Place windows to over look car parks and access ways.
8. Case Study –I , Women –Friendly Cities Project
The existing women – related policies in Korea mainly targeted at the improvement of the socio-economic status of women, and gender equality. But, the authorities also realized that the existing policies in Korea had little consideration of a woman’s perspective and experiences pertaining to roads, transportation, and cultural aspects. This led to inception of the Women-friendly City Project which was aimed to improve the city spaces by reflecting women’s perspectives in all city policies and thereby improving their day to day urban life. Around 90 sub-projects came up in 5 areas. The objectives of the Women-friendly City Project were broadly represented as - Resolving the factors that cause inconvenience, discomfort and uneasiness in their daily lives. -Enhancing women’s rights and helping women achieve their potential. -Inorder to achieve the objectives, the Project was divided under five major aspects: 1. Women and Family Policy Affairs which emphasised on the different ways to help career-interrupted women regain employment. Provision of affordable yet high quality daycare facilities was a thought that was involved. 2. Green Seoul Bureau Building parks with women-friendly amenities. This is of significant interest to this study from the successful project which has showcased to the world how to create parks that are safe for a woman by using simple mechanisms. 3. City Transportation Parking zones and Public Transport systems were featured to be amongst the most feared zones for women on survey. This called for a creation of safe and easy parking systems for women drivers and attempt to encourage women to travel by para-transit and public transit at night through strengthening the existing system 4. Seoul Metro The reliability and safety of metro services were studied and accordingly proposals to revamp existing system considered. 5. Protection Another important aspect was the creation of crime free zones. The process involved participation of female citizens from policy making to implementation. 244 experts and professors were consulted during policy making. 200 women (workers and housewives) were involved in on-site monitoring. Policy consultations and on-site monitoring was carried out by 3250 people in 25 autonomous districts. This displays the interest and responsible role taken by the authorities to bring a drastic change in the existing scenario.
The projects that were executed for the safety of women in the city included: 1. Women-Friendly Parking Lots: 56,000 parking lots that give first priority to female drivers (7.9% of around 7,00,000 slots in 13,00 parking lots. And installation of CCTVs and emergency bells in underground parking lots along with improving lighting.
2. Women-Friendly Roads Existing roads were improved in terms of their quality and safety through installation of more CCTVs and increasing the lighting to 30 lux. Separating resting spots from pedestrians to give more privacy. 3. Women –Friendly Parks Parks, the most feared zones were made accessible by provision of good lighting of the parks and the pedestrian pathways, removal of visual barriers, safe and cleaner public toilets and parking lots. 4. Women –Friendly Built Environment Crime prevention systems, such as windowed (transparent) elevators, in consideration for safety. Building childcare facilities along with female bathroom facilities. Subway ticket gates were modified for stroller use.
9. Case Study –II, Guidelines by UrbSpace
The organisation UrbaSpaces - Urban Spaces for enhancing the attractiveness and quality of the urban environment along with an association with the European Union, European Regional Development Fund formulated a set of simple and logical guidelines for reference of designers to promote the safety and security of women. The issues mentioned in the guidelines were similar to the ones mentioned in the other case studies. ACCESSIBILITY GENDER ASPECTS SECURITY AND SOCIAL COHESION
The guidelines highlighted the relationship of gender with accessibility and security.
PARKING SPOTS: Should not be isolated and should be well-lit with security/ cctvs. VISUAL BARRIERS: Architectural features should not act as visual barriers as otherwise such spaces will result into spots for antisocial activities. Avoiding green spaces from becoming visual barriers. PEDESTRIAN ROUTES: Routes to be well-lit ant nights and be located beside area that are active.
Characteristics of space that are “Safe”
10. Case Study- III, Safe Delhi Campaign
Jagori, a Delhi based NGO Undertook a study on women’s safety, and initiated the ‘Safe Delhi Campaign’ that focused on strategies to create safer environments for women, and explored ways to get different groups of people in the city involved. Safety audits were conducted across different spots in the city which were then used to identify factors that cause fear as well as a feeling of safety among women. These findings were then to be used for advocacy and encourage states to include real life inputs and experiences from women in the urban planning process. Through the survey findings, it was observed that:
1. Most women felt unsafe going into public spaces alone or after dark unless they were in groups or
accompanied by men. Women felt safer in well-lit places. 2. Public transport, especially buses, are seen as unsafe and are cited by the majority of women as the commonest site for harassment. 3. Women felt safer in crowded places than in isolated places. Bus stops are seen as safer since they are seldom deserted. 4. Male dominated spaces such as cigarette and paan shops, street corners are felt to be unsafe and are avoided by women, especially after dark. 5. Women prefer using subways which have vendors and shops. 6. Women normally feel safe in using parks in early evenings or around dusk, but not after nightfall. Parks become almost exclusively male spaces after dark. The major elements of concern were identified to be: 1. Lighting in Public Spaces 2. Isolated Bus stops 3. Dark Roads and Unlit streets 4. Parks and Green areas 5. Car Parks 6. Debris Dumps, Partially Demolished Buildings and dark alleys. 7. Usable Public Toilets. 8. Male dominated spaces. 9. Security guards and police patrolling 10. Market areas The approach followed while conducting the safety audits: Group of women including more than 1 resident Identify area and observe infrastructure Observe Gendered use of space Discuss with the users of the space Audit Notes & Discuss with Local Govt.
Safety Audit of Connaught Place
The areas were approached on foot by a team that comprised of women from all sections of the society and included a few who were the regular users of the space. Every parcel of land where a change in activity is observed and mapped. The comments in yellow indicate a manageable or good environment whereas the comments in red indicate need for immediate action. The complaints may include any inconvenience faced by women such as absence of street lights, lack of pavements etc.
Safety Audit of Kalyanpuri and Mayur Vihar Area
Women are targets of gender-based violence. This impacts their mobility in the city and their use of public spaces such as work places, parks, outdoor spaces, cultural and recreational facilities, and public transit. The main issue arises due to fact that most designers and planners tend to view cities as gender-neutral and bias-free spaces. Public realms that are addressed specifically for the safety of women can be termed to be safe collectively for the society at large. Many women are critical of the structure and organization of urban form because it often disadvantages them. Transportation and traffic policies, which in turn inform land-use planning and mobility, are key areas of concern because of their impact on disabled women and men, older women and men, low-income women, and new immigrants. The above are very general issues that concern women. But, a set of issues such as the height of curbs, the difficulty in the negotiation of stairs in public spaces with wheelchairs and strollers, the need for safe, clean and accessible public toilets in parks and public spaces, accessibility for mobility in shopping areas, and proper lighting for safe movement along the streets etc, need to be considered which affect women at a smaller scale. The whole process of creating safer and secure communities can be explained as a step-wise process. 1. The initial step in the process of an urban intervention for women safety is to understand thoroughly the fears and phobias of women residing in the locality. 2. Mobilisation of the public into the whole process is essential . A place can be made more connected to the human environment by promoting activities of mixed use . 3. Redevelopment and upgradation of spaces with a touch of traditional or cultural setting to generate public interest in these spaces . 4. Institutional public spaces and insurgent public spaces need to be demarcated and dealt with on separate lines. This is because Institutional spaces are voted to be more safer than insurgent or irregular spaces. Initial study, analysis of location and issues of women/ men Encourage participation of all sections of the society Redevelopment of existing scenario according to general interest of public
Maintenance and Operation
The process is highlighted in particular to emphasize the significant role of public participation not only in the project but even in the genesis of the project. But, prior to delineation of solutions, it is imperative to classify the scale and type of the issue and its consequent impacts on the mindset of women.
The design solutions to safer communities can be broadly classified under two categories:
1. Macro level Issues that need involvement of public policies inorder to achieve the goals sighted. This can include the aspects such as landuse modifications, parking regulations, public transit system, street lighting etc, which can be altered only by the involvement of the authorities can be categorized under macro level issues. 2. Micro Level Micro level issues comprise of smaller problems such as irregular network of pathways, public toilets, ramps, height of stairs, signages etc, which need to be dealt through in-situ interventions.
THE APPROACH TO DESIGN The design of effective gendered spaces is only possible through slight modifications to the approach towards design. As observed from the case studies, the concept of conducting safety audits at fear-inducing locations can be best implemented in gathering the missing links regarding the issues faced by women. These recordings and remarks formulated as a result of the safety audit can be classified into macro scale issues or micro scale issues on the basis of their intensity, scale of impact and intervention scale. Thus, the positive and stabilizing aspects of the urban realm are identified and preserved. The negative spaces are demarcated and can be worked out on a micro level as in the case of Safety Audits conducted by Jagori in Delhi. This is essential as the designers on the initial survey categorise and justify the intensity of a problem on the basis of their scale, as we see many a times, the smaller issues are often left unaddressed at the behest of the larger picture. This is a major loophole in the design of urban spaces for gendered use.
The modification to be made in the present approach technique is mainly to meticulously understand and comprehend the concerns of women to a pin-point.
The Urban Design strategies that can lead to creation of safer communities are listed below. URBAN DESIGN STRATEGIES FOR SAFER COMMUNITIES A study of the context of a location is important while designing and especially in case of a gendered approach. Yet, a set of guidelines can be formulated that are broadly targeted to address the safety of the public realm. The majorly targeted urban spaces are the public realms, transportation systems, road links, pedestrian pathways, institutional spaces, commercial zones, parking lots, poorly lit areas, isolated areas and male dominated zones/ corners which should be designed in purview of the accessibility and usability of women. Interventions at the Neighbourhood level: a. Minimizing the entry and exit points into a zone by provision of controlled and vigilant points for entrance and exit. b. Maximizing the viewing capability of public spaces by people residing in an area can help in improved vigilance of the area. This can be achieved by providing an unobstructed view of restricted areas. c. Encourage participation of people towards effective use of public spaces by provision of multiple activities in a common zone thus making the area secure due to presence of crowd at all times. d. Provide appropriate lighting for streets, paths, alleys, and parks to check anti-social activities and induce a sense of safety. Bright security lights need to be installed at all locations. The maintenance and operation of the lighting equipment should also be monitored regularly. e. Avoid landscaping and extensive screening that may prevent trespassers or stalkers from being identified.
Controlled Entry and Exit
Interventions at the Parking lots a. Enclosed, underground, multi-story garages should be avoided to the maximum extent as it is difficult to monitor such zones. install bright lights over driving lanes and parking spaces b. Use paint to increase light levels c. Control access and egress with automatic doors and gates d. Avoid pillars and recesses that may hide offenders
Interventions in the Public Realm a. Encourage use by legitimate users b. Avoid placing dark, and or hidden areas near activity nodes c. Install appropriate lighting d. Avoid placing covered outdoor areas where loitering may be a problem
Creation of Focal Points in Urban Design
Transparency in design character
Enclosing of spaces without creating obstructions to enhance the visibility of a location.
Inter-mixing of Landuse and creation of levels to increase sightlines and visibility of surroundings
Public realms are the most complex of spaces. It is essential to design these spaces with due consideration to the users, and the age of the users for maximum utilization of the space.
An appropriate conception of the space and its surrounding by the urban designer is essential to delve and design catering to the pertinent issues. A special consideration for women in the design stage itself is what needs to be encouraged at the school level itself. This clearly instills sensitivity towards creating environments for all within the designer. Urban spaces can become gender-friendly only when they incorporate changes at two-levels. Urban design is not the only solution to tackling women-related issues but it simultaneously requires the intervention of the administration of the region so as to chalk out policies which can provide scope for making the necessary transformations. It is a collective effort of both urban designers and the city managers to engage in the process of making communities safer. The policies that are not supported by a set of good designs are not effective. Designing spaces for inducing the feeling of safety is one step. Maintenance and operation of these spaces and post-occupancy surveys are aspects which are usually missed out. It is essential to understand that design is a continuous process and is never-ending. The spaces need to surveyed for their safety index at regular intervals of time and timely modifications should be incorporated. And lastly, the world shall definitely improve by including the better half of the society in the decision-making process.
Books Bell Wendy, “Women And Community Safety”, Bell Planning Associates, South Australia Fenster Tovi, “Gender and the City: The Different Formations of Belonging” Spreiregen D Paul, “Urban Design Architecture of Towns and Cities”, Mcgraw Hill Book Co. ,January 1, 1965 Woodsworth Ellen, “Making Space for Women in Cities”, Canada
Web References “Jagori”, www. jagori.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/IS-THIS-OUR-CITY, March 22, 2013 “Women Friendly Seoul Project Report”, http://www.seoulwomen.or.kr/nhpeng/archives/policy, March 22, 2013
Articles Safer By Design Guidelines, “Designing Safer Communities”, Baulkham Hills Shire Council, Baulkham Hills Khosla Prabha, “Gendered Cities: Built and Physical Environments”, New Delhi Construction and Civil Engineering Vol. 3, No. 4,“Canadian Journal on Environmental”, May 2012 John, “Examples of areas for policy reform identified in a recent ADB seminar”
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