In her book The Life and Death of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs outlines three necessary things to increase safety on streets: eyes on the street, a clear division of public and private space, and users on sidewalks fairly continuously.
When I went to the street festival on Corso Garibaldi on Friday, I experienced the effect people and eyes on the street can have. At the beginning of the street there were people mingling, open restaurants, and music being played. I felt comfortable and safe among the people and in good lighting.
However, as I continued to walk past the festival and up the street, things became much quieter. The quiet, still environment was eerie, especially after coming from the lively section of the street. I knew I was still safe, but I couldn’t help but feel slightly paranoid about the lack of people.
Experiencing these emotions made me realize the importance of having people in a place and eyes on the street. As Jane Jacobs said, without eyes to see, good lighting means nothing.
Not only does the presence of people make a place seem safer, but it also makes the place seem more engaging and lively, all characteristics one hopes to invoke when Placemaking.