Thursday, January 24, 2008

More on Buses

Saint Petersburg is a much safer city than Memphis.

Sure, Peter is not a perfectly safe city. But, it is much safer. I noticed that. One of my Russian professors fields phone calls from concerned parents by telling them that if their kid has navigated Memphis thus far, they'll be perfectly fine in Peter. (Granted, the extent to which Rhodents navigate Memphis is limited -- Bubble!)

I'm sure there are a number of factors involved in that distinction. Many of which wouldn't be noticeable to the untrained casual observer, wandering through the city while barely speaking the language. But there was one obvious one.

There's a lot of people in them there streets. And yeah, that whole safety in numbers things -- even if you're technically alone -- there's something to it.

Virtually everyone in Peter uses some form of public transportation, be it the bus, the metro, the marshutkas. And foot power for shorter trips, or the trip to the bus stop or metro station.

Walking home along at night is far less frightening if you are constantly passing people on the sidewalks. I do think that people's fear of being out in Memphis is 95% completely irrational. (I have had roommates who freak out from going to a thrift store on Summer Avenue -- IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!) But also think that interesting the number of people out walking and using public transportation, would do a lot to make the city feel safer, at the very least, and I highly suspect that it would make the city safer in fact.

So, perhaps encouraging people to use public transportation (start with offering a monthly pass, work on more convenient routes), would not just make Memphis a more eco-friendly city, but a safer city.

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