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Navigating Glasgow: Discussing the Impact of Urban Planning on Women’s Safety - by Michaela Roach

Feeling unsafe in the streets of Glasgow is a common theme amongst women. The efforts that go into urban planning must be considering the safety of women, only then can women begin to feel seen and secure urban environments can be made.


Public space plans could be prioritising women much better as Holly Bruce, a member of ‘Young Women Lead, found that a large majority of women feel unsafe in Glasgow’s public spaces and on public transport. Just this year, a Scottish Government study found that 22% of women revealed that they felt very or somewhat unsafe at night - compared to 6% of males. The impact that well-lit streets, public transport accessibility, and overall effective urban planning would have on women’s safety must not be ignored.


When I began researching this topic, multiple websites noted Glasgow (and Scotland) were generally safe for women travelling alone. However, there was no mention of this without urging women to follow the “usual precautions” of keeping safe at night. Thus proving that women always need to go the extra mile to keep ourselves safe outdoors in our everyday lives. Bruce also found that 95% felt unsafe visiting parks at night. Efforts as simple as streets being better lit would go a long way for women in ensuring we felt more aware of our surroundings. One in five women in Scotland are scared to go outside alone once it gets dark. I can recall various times where I have had to use the torchlight on my phone which adds to the already existing fear of being out alone as a woman at night.


One of Wise Women’s core beliefs and values is that we will work towards ending all violence and discrimination against all women. The importance of women’s safety on public transport and its accessibility must not be overlooked. My friends and I are constantly speaking about the issues facing women in society because we are directly impacted everyday. If buses and trains stick to their schedules then women may have more confidence in them when we need to use them on our routes. The countless times of overwhelming fear that has taken over when it has just been another man and me at a bus stop along with the unwanted conversation is just unacceptable.


One of my friends said, “I get the bus home from work often and I noticed recently that I instinctively never put both earphones in. I feel like when I’m out in public, specifically on public transport when it’s dark, I have to be hyper vigilant and constantly assess my safety”.


Another said, “Sometimes when I finish at eight o’clock or even at four o’clock during the winter I regret wearing a skirt to work. I get scared if I’m alone at the bus stop in the dark with men, but feel safer if there’s a woman there. I’ve had plenty of encounters with men, specifically drunk men who try to talk and annoy me on the bus. When I get off the bus I have my keys in my hand and turn my music down and make sure to check if I’m walking alone. It’s easier in the summer when it’s light, but I’ve still been followed home in broad daylight”.


Bruce’s study also found that 70% do not always feel safe waiting on public transport, with 67% feeling uncomfortable or unsafe when on buses.


If more efforts could be made when discussing urban planning in increasing women’s safety, the women of Glasgow would positively benefit in their everyday lives. Small efforts make huge differences.


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