If there’s one thing that people around the world agree on, it is that we want our neighborhoods to be safe. In some respects, it is the government’s job to protect and serve citizens, which means that certain ideas about how best to promote safety become political. What types of programs should be funded? What should be the role of the police? What should traffic rules be? People can spend generations fighting about these types of issues, since they tend to be controversial and bring out the many divergences in our varied worldviews. But, beyond these political problems, there are many steps a concerned group of neighbors can easily take together to promote safety. These don’t fall under the purveyance of government, but consist of simple actions regular citizens can take. These methods might not be the beginning and end of an overarching safety plan, but they are solid steps in the right direction with a genuine capability to save lives and promote well-being in the neighborhood.
Promote Socialization Between Neighbors
When neighbors truly know each other, neighborhoods become safer (and happier) places to live. A community of strangers is not a community at all, but a collection of random people. All the other items on this list require a strong sense of community to even be possible. If nobody knows anybody else in the neighborhood, then no meaningful safety initiatives can happen. To promote socialization, designate yourself a leader in the community and go out of your way to plan social events. Block parties, neighborhood cookouts, and charity fundraisers are all great ways to bring people together and sow the seeds of community and cooperation. Once everybody in the neighborhood knows each other’s names, it will become a lot easier to work together.
Create A Neighborhood Watch
Once neighbors are properly acquainted, the next step is to take meaningful action toward making the community safer. A neighborhood watch is a great way to start because it establishes an organized order to the safety program and creates a point of contact with local police. Neighborhood watches have been shown to decrease crime in communities. Just be sure that the program is inclusive and representative of the community, so that all neighbors feel their interests are being protected. The neighborhood watch should be a uniting rather than dividing force.
Ask Drivers to Slow Down
While criminal activity and violence make the headlines and grab our attention, the single biggest danger in most neighborhoods is traffic. This is especially true along streets that are used by outside drivers who don’t live in the community but pass through on their way from point A to point B. Try installing simple, polite signs pleading with motorists to respect speed limits and keep your children safe. Most drivers will feel empathetic, they just need a little reminder to slow down for safety’s sake. You can also try installing radar speed signs to help deter fast driving.
Keep Sight-lines Clear
Trees and bushes have a nasty way over growing out of control at intersections where they block drivers’ views. If any such overgrown trees are in shared or public space, get a group together and cut them back down to size. If the plants are private property in a person’s yard, then speak to your neighbor about the danger they present. This is where strong community relationships are key: if antagonism can be avoided, most neighbors will do right by their communities when asked.
Add Street Lights
As a general rule, dark streets are dangerous streets. In the cover of darkness, nefarious actors can get up to all sorts of trouble without the members of the neighborhood ever having a clue. Installing street lights makes the neighborhood safer and brighter. Once the lights are installed, you’ll be shocked by how dark corners that used to seem sketchy have been made suddenly harmless. Lighter streets reduce crime and accidents while increasing that most-important element: peace of mind.