I appreciated the examination of crime statistics in high-walkability and low-walkability neighborhoods that you all ran recently (Static, April 18). I always enjoy City Paper's looks at data on life in Baltimore City. I would like to offer a few comments that might provide some context.
* Most of the neighborhoods in the "most walkable" category have a high number of visitors from other parts of the city as well as from the county. People go eating and drinking in Federal Hill and Mount Vernon, and they park in Sharp-Leadenhall and Otterbein to visit the stadiums or the Inner Harbor. So in these neighborhoods, there may be more people at risk of crime than the number of residents indicates. In other words, the higher per-resident rates of vehicle larceny and robbery may be because many more people are going through, not because the neighborhoods are more dangerous for any one person.
* If we take the number of residents as the number at risk, then except for the top two rows of your table ("larceny from vehicle" and "robbery"), the differences in specific crime categories were not statistically significant. The increased risk of aggravated assault in the most walkable communities (for example) is suggestive, but most statisticians would not feel comfortable ruling out chance in this case.
* Looking at crime data over a longer period of time might give firmer estimates of the crime risk among these communities.
* Getting a true estimate of crime risk (accounting for residents and visitors) would be hard. But intuitively, if the per-person risk of vehicle larceny and robbery were highest along the downtown corridor, it's unlikely that these neighborhoods would support the wide variety of shops, restaurants, and other amenities that give them such a high walkability score.