Analysis Of Perceived Safety In Urban Parks: A Field Study In Büyükpark And Hasanağa Park



Perceived safety is an important factor that may discourage many potential visitors from using and enjoying available public open spaces. Significant number of research have been conducted on different kinds of public open spaces including natural environments and parks with a particular focus on fear of crime related to perceived safety.  However, no research has been met in current literature that handles, explains, and measures perceived safety in a broader sense in urban parks beyond fear of crime. The main aims of this study is to a) develop a scale to measure perceived safety in urban parks, b) find out the key factors that affect perceived safety and c) examine the impact of perceived safety on utilization of urban parks. During field study, urban parks constructed after Republican Period in İzmir were surveyed and two prominent urban parks with different environmental features were selected as case studies of the research (urban location, landscape and environmental design, maintenance and lighting). While Büyükpark, which has considerable environmental features, is located in Bornova district, Hasanağa Park that can be characterized by negative environmental features, is located in Buca region in İzmir. The study, which was conducted through on-site observations and face to face questionnaires with 442 people, concludes that perceived safety cannot be explained only with fear of crime. Wayfinding and environmental satisfaction also appear as significant parameters for perceived safety in urban parks. The study also indicates that design of urban parks should not only target prevention of fear of crime but also enhance wayfinding ability and environmental satisfaction of users through appropriate design techniques and strategies. In statistical analyses, perceived safety responses of users of the two park were compared. The comparison shows that users of Büyükpark (with positive design features) are more satisfied with safety situation in the park than users of Hasanağa Park. Another significant result of the research is that urban parks in central locations of cities are perceived as safer if they are relatively small, easy to control, well-maintained and include various activities. Socio demographic factors such as gender, age, marital status and education level are also found as significant factors that affect safety perception of park users. Additionally, increased safety perception results in more frequent visit to urban parks.

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