I thought I’d talk today about how “safe” of a city Melbourne comes off as. Compared to Philly, I’d say it’s much safer. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but if there are doggy parts of Melbourne, they either blend in really well with the rest of the city or they are outside of the CBD. In Philly, if you start heading East from City Hall, things look pretty good until you hit the infamous Gallery. There, the neighborhood tanks. When you realize it isn’t even ten blocks away from City Hall (and many blocks in Philly are very small), that’s kind of a sad and scary thought.
Philly also has its share of “Go” and “No-Go” areas and you learn where they are very quickly. However, even in the “Go” areas like most of University City (the district where Drexel is located) you do get robberies and shootings that are way too close for comfort. And this goes on in an area with some of the highest density of CCTV coverage.
Speaking of CCTV, Melbourne does have a number of cameras throughout the city and you know where they are by the handy “Safe City Cameras Protect This Area” signs posted on street poles and in bricks in the sidewalk (by the way, it’s called a footpath here.) However, Melbourne has significantly less cameras than Philly, at least that I’ve seen. There are also drastically less emergency call boxes on the college campus here in Melbourne, but that may because there are significantly more pay phones here than in Philly (to the point that pay phones are actually a common sight here.)
In Melbourne, police on streets are also a common sight. Not just in “at-risk” areas, but everywhere. So long as you aren’t causing trouble, they’re also pretty pleasant too. Philly cops, not so much. At the train stations, you’ll also see what we call “Protective Services” as well. They’re a branch of the police, kinda like the Transit Police you’ll see in the US. That said, police response times in Melbourne are pretty damn quick.
No doubt another thing that helps in Melbourne is not everyone (OK, even that’s exaggerating for Philly, but…) has a gun on their back pocket for shooting at the smallest (and often stupidest) argument. That’s not to say there are no guns in Melbourne, but they aren’t something you see roughly every week in/on the news.
However, here in Melbourne there is no DrexelAlert to tell you about shootings/robberies/etc. That said, when shit is going down in Philly (at least around Drexel), you know about it. Without that, it makes it a lot harder to say just how common those kinds of things are in Melbourne. You’ll certainty meet plenty of, er, “interesting” people on public transport. You’ll also notice the heavy amounts of vandalism on it.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been away from Philly for close to half a year now, but I’m pretty sure there is drastically more vandalism in Melbourne, most commonly graffiti. Plenty of the trams are also scratched to shit – even the E’s are no longer all shiny anymore.
But, overall, I’d call Melbourne safe. Maybe not Japan-level safe, but definitely higher than Philly. Sydney didn’t seem too bad either. I’ll miss that.