Many commentators believe that low-density, car-dependent cities are safer than older, higher-density cities. According to a 1990 Gallup Poll, most Americans share this view. The poll showed that low-density Sunbelt cities are generally perceived as safer than they really are, and that high-density Frostbelt cities are often perceived as more dangerous than they really are. The purpose of this article is to answer the following questions: 1. How closely do public perceptions of major cities' safety correlate with actual crime rates? 2. Even if high-density cities have lower crime rates, might public perceptions be justified by the possibility that crime in such cities is more randomly distributed among races and social classes? 3. Assuming that high-density cities are safer than generally believed, what consequences flow from this fact?

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