Mobility is a factor which affects perceptions of neighbourhoods

The JRF report also shows that people's capacity to access different places is an important factor in creating safe communities as a lack of mobility can generate fear of a neighbourhood. A study of Aylesbury outlined in the report found that young people in particular tended to fear neighbourhoods that they had no experience of:

"Different people have different stocks of knowledge, time and money, which together help shape their ability to access different spaces and places. We found that young people in particular had a restricted mobility and knowledge of their cities and tended to frequent spaces near their home and school or the city centre at weekends. While this pattern is probably to be expected, their lack of experience of other neighbourhoods tended to generate fear....These perceptions seemed to hold for many people into adulthood, with adults in each of the three case studies citing various neighbourhoods as ‘no-go areas'. (Mean and Tims 2005)"

The report argues that "familiarity with an area could help people to overcome their concerns".

JRF makes some recommendations for good design and management of public spaces to facilitate public use:

  • poor signposting inadvertently suggests that there is little of interest in and around town centres other than shopping, and many interesting local features and historic assets often go unnoticed and unvisited
  • effective lighting programmes can create a stronger sense of security at dusk or in the evening, particularly for more vulnerable groups and those without cars

The Social value of public spaces
Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Ken Worpole & Katharine Knox (2007)