Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Walk smart

Kate and Annie, "Inspiring Hope" walk, 2011
Seattle has seen an unusually high number of shootings in the past month, most of them in public places.  The issue has now become front-and-center-first-pageworthy since a white man died in crossfire when driving his children and father to pick up some groceries.  Still another bystander was shot at the Seattle Folklife Festival this weekend.  The photo of police officers chasing the suspect across Seattle Center grounds was unnerving.

Certainly the city is going to try to address the issue, which appears to be gang-related.  But what kinds of decisions can the rest of us make about how we conduct our lives, especially with well-loved choices?

I walk early in the morning when there are only a few runners and walkers out because I like the quiet.  Is that still safe to do?   I cut through an alley to get to Cafe Allegro in the University District, where sometimes there are pockets of people arguing.  Should I change my route?  These examples serve to make my point -- should I change my behavior in anticipation of a bad thing happening?

I think it makes sense to remain as alert as possible, whenever you are on the street, per the suggestions I've given in the last chapter of Advice From A Risk Detective.   Changing your patterns is another matter.   If there's data to support your decision, by all means do so.  But if it's simply your own anxiety that something bad might happen, then use that anxiety to make you more aware and to manage the personal risk where you can.  The six pieces of advice below apply especially to walkers and runners.

Stay away from areas where data indicates a high incidence of violence.
Move confidently and with purpose, indicating you know where you are and where you are going.
Carry a mobile phone.
Make sure you have identification on you.
If you're wearing headphones, be sure that you can still hear external sounds.
Ask for help if you need it.

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