Greenways and Crime on Nearby Properties

An Investigation of Reported Crimes Along Three Greenways

This study investigates the question of whether the presence of a greenway increases the risk of crime occurring on the properties adjacent to the greenway.

Love, Jane

  • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of City and Regional Planning


During greenway planning efforts, landowners along the proposed path often voice concerns about an increase in crime due to the expectation that a greenway provides criminals with refuge and sheltered access to targets. In response to this common public perception, this study investigates the question of whether the presence of a greenway increases the risk of crime occurring on the properties adjacent to the greenway. Three greenways in Chapel Hill, North Carolina were selected for the study. Through spatial analysis in a geographic information system, crime trends in the study areas for periods before and after each greenway installation were compared to trends for the same time periods in control areas with similar socioeconomic composition. Results indicated that two out of the three greenways appeared to have no influence on the rate or location of crime. In the third case, the density of crime in the vicinity of the greenway increased after the trail opened. The study concludes that the empirical data does not fully support the existence of a relationship between greenways and crime. Due to a limited number of cases included here, this study does not attempt to establish causality. Future studies involving more observations should be able to provide more reliable results.

Attached document published April 2005

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