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Pathways: Examining Street Network Configurations, Structural Characteristics and Spatial Crime Patterns in Street Segments


Objectives: Although theories suggest that street network configurations (pathways) are important factors for understanding the spatial patterns of crime, relatively less attention has been paid to the association between the physical configuration of the street network and the level of crime in place. Consequently, we employed the concept of betweenness centrality in the context of the street network to empirically measure the potential foot traffic passing through a given street segment. Methods: We introduce a methodological refinement by accounting for the characteristics of origin and destination of each potential trip (where travelers are from and tend to go) using residential population in origins and destinations and the number of various types of business employees in destinations. Moreover, we posit that the effect of potential foot traffic into a given street segment will be moderated by certain social environmental characteristics such as socioeconomic status of place. By using data on a sample of 300,000 street segments in the Southern California region across 130 cities, we estimate a set of negative binomial regression models including the betweenness measures. Results: Our results show that betweenness centrality has a curvilinear relationship with violent and property crime: At lower levels, increases in betweenness results in increased crime, yet the pattern becomes crime-reducing at higher values of the betweenness measure. We also found that the pattern is moderated by the socioeconomic status of the street segment. Conclusions: The current study highlights that there is an important relationship of the physical environment in terms of the street network configuration and crime in street segments.

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