Do you feel safe walking alone at night?
That's what Gallup recently asked people who live in America's 50 biggest metro areas.
Perhaps surprisingly, residents of the biggest metro areas feel scarcely less secure than the national average: 71 percent of big-city residents and their suburban neighbors, vs. 72 percent for the nation as a whole.
The variation was wide -- a 25-percentage-point difference -- between the least and most secure-feeling city dwellers.
Certainly there's a strong correlation between the FBI violent crime rate and how residents actually feel, Gallup says. In the Memphis area, the smallest proportion of residents feel safe walking alone at night out of the 50 big metro areas surveyed -- and indeed, Memphis is one of the most dangerous cities in America, according to a report published on Yahoo! Homes last year.
Yet residents of some of the most notoriously dangerous metro areas, like Detroit and St. Louis, aren't especially nervous about walking alone at night. In fact, nearly three-quarters of St. Louis-area residents feel safe doing so, which puts that metro in the top 15 of the safest-feeling cities. By contrast, people in the Silicon Valley, Dallas and San Diego areas are considerably warier.
The most secure of all big-metro dwellers live in the Twin Cities: An impressive 80 percent of Minneapolis-area residents feel safe walking at night -- though we suppose maybe Gallup should have asked them about bicycling instead. Bike riders on the city's Midtown Greenway have recently reported a spate of attacks, including one Molotov cocktail hurled at a cyclist, according to the Atlantic Cities.
And as far as the old song goes: Maybe it's true that nobody walks in L.A. -- but more than two-thirds say that if they did, they'd feel perfectly comfortable walkin' in L.A. at night.
Below are the eight metro areas where residents feel least safe walking at night. (We stopped at eight cities instead of a round 10 because of a seven-way tie for ninth place.)
Gallup asked: "Do you feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live?"
No. 1 (least likely to feel safe): Memphis, TN-MS-AR
43% say no, they don't feel safe
55% say yes, they feel safe
No. 4 (tie): Jacksonville, FL
36% say no, they don't feel safe
63% say yes, they feel safe
No. 6: Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
34% say no, they don't feel safe
65% say yes, they feel safe
No. 7 (tie): Baltimore-Towson, MD
32% say no, they don't feel safe
66% say yes, they feel safe
Click here to see a slideshow of the cities where residents feel safest. (You can find all of the data and survey methodology at Gallup.com.)