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Getting Home Safely guidance to local authorities

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A guidance document for local authorities, which contains suggestions on improving the safety of women in public spaces, has been published by Atkins.

Getting Home Safely’ has been prepared by an all-female team of transport planners as a guide for local authorities on small improvements they can make to public spaces to improve safety, particularly for females.

A recent report from UN Women UK suggests over 70% of women have reported that they have experienced sexual harassment in public. The document offers suggestions on how better urban design can improve safety.

Rachel Evans, Atkins.

Rachel Evans, one of the document’s co-authors and a senior technical lead in accessible transport and mobility at Atkins, said: “Creating safer journeys for women is an issue close to my heart, and I am proud to have helped produce this guide to help support better planning and design of our urban streets. This is a call to action to those responsible for the planning and design of streets in our cities.”

In its introduction, the report states: “The need for safe public spaces is paramount and, as transport planners, we have a responsibility and obligation to ensure that we are creating services and public spaces that are safe for women; so everyone feels able to travel when and how they like, in both daylight and after dark.

“Practical ‘Safe by Design’ solutions need to be delivered now with accelerated delivery to ensure that we build back better for women in the UK post-pandemic.

“We are focussing our call to action on safe by design for first and last mile journeys. These are made to begin or complete a journey for another purpose or for interchanging with another transport mode – for example, between home and public transport stops/interchanges or between a place of work and public transport or a car park.

“Walking accounts for a high proportion of first and last mile journeys. We use the term ‘mile’ as a loose definition. Whether this distance is shorter or longer, ensuring personal safety is the common and vital factor.

“The first and last mile is generally a small proportion of a journey in distance, yet it requires women to make a disproportionate level of adjustments to decisions and behaviours to maximise their safety.”

The report contains a toolkit that critically goes beyond the conventional infrastructure features to reflect ‘look and feel’ factors that are intrinsic to how safe, comfortable and connected women feel with public spaces in their lives and work communities.

To illustrate this, the report outlines the challenges faced by a fictional character that reflects the experience of many females in the UK when travelling alone or late and night.

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