Street Traffic, Social Integration, and Fear of Crime

Albert Dale Hunter*, Terry L. Baumer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Drawing on the work of Jacobs, Newman, and Gardiner, among others, this paper investigates fear of crime by urban residents as a consequence of two interrelated characteristics of neighborhoods: 1) the perceived volume of street usage and 2) the degree of residents' social integration into the neighborhood. Secondary analysis of a 1975 survey shows that, counter to previous hypotheses, perception of increased street traffic leads to greater fear. However, when controlling for social integration, we find that for those who are socially integrated perceived volume of street traffic has no relationship to fear, while for those not socially integrated the greater the perceived street usage the greater the fear. Three mechanisms by which social integration may reduce fear of people on the streets are considered: 1) reducing the proportion of strangers versus acquaintances on the street; 2) providing networks of potential assistance; and 3) reducing the strangeness of the streets' daily rhythms and routines. We conclude that both physical design and social factors must be interrelated in attempts to understand fear of crime and in designing ameliorative programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-131
Number of pages10
JournalSociological Inquiry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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