Are streets safe at night if there is no car movement?




Throughout city centres there are pedestrian only streets, however on a night do they feel as safe as they do during the daytime? The reason I ask this is on a night streets with cars on them are going to be busier with more people than that of a pedestrian only street. Therefore, does that alter yourarticle-2264917-170836C7000005DC-570_470x423 sense of safety if there is very little activity on a street? During the daytime on Northumberland Street in Newcastle,  pedestrians can move freely on the street without care. There are plenty of other pedestrians at the same time, subsequently safety is quite high. However, on a night, when the shops shut, the street can have a feeling of a ghost town, as a result, I would feel the street has lost a sense of safety and can become very daunting with the lack of activity.


Compare this to Grey Street in Newcastle, this street has cars on during the daytime and on nighttime, it also has a lot of pedestrian movement for a street with some shops, cafes and restaurants. Therefore, the street can feel somewhat safer on nighttime, because the services are not shut, there is still movement and people on the streets. With reference to academic literature, Jacobs (1961) relates to hgreyster experiences within a city and highlights that if a street does not have other people using it and is just quiet then fear can creep in and crime can become apparent (Jacobs, 1961). This idea is something that is portrayed from the Urban Task Force (1999), it is made apparent that active frontages and other pedestrian movement can improve the safety of the street (Urban Task Force 1999). Following on from this, it leads to my design idea.

A solution to this issue is to design pedestrian only streets that have the capabilities of car movement after a certain time in the evening, when the streets are not crowed and cars can pass safely. As a result, during the night when pedestrian movement is low, car movement can add to this sense of ‘eyes on the street’, it can improve the sense of safety. The psychological aspects of having other people on the street can be very beneficial, people feel more at ease, apparent from the literature in the previous paragraph. In my opinion, when walking around the streets of Newcastle on a night, I will always choose a busy street over a quiet pedestrian only one, even if the route is longer. However with a shared use during the night, can this what were pedestrian only streets feel psychologically safer? My answer is yes, they can.



1) Jacobs, J., 1961. The Uses of Sidewalk: Safety, in: Le Gates, T. R., and Stout, R., 5th ed. 2001. The City Reader. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 518 – 529.

2) The Urban Task Force, 1999. Designing the Urban Environment. Towards an Urban Renaissance. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 49 – 85.


Feature Image:

In Text Images: 1) Northumberland Street -

2) Grey Street –



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