If you refer to your neighbors as Lady with the Beagle and Guy Who Drives a Jeep, don’t be too embarrassed. Social cohesion is down significantly from the 1970s, and we’re much less likely to hang out with our neighbors nowadays. In turn, that may make us feel like we can trust people less, and that has a lot of harmful side effects. 

If you want to improve your neighborhood, you can start by getting out and saying hello more often. Getting to know your neighbors is a good first step, but here are three other ways you can improve your neighborhood right now.

Check Public Records

If you feel uneasy about your neighborhood, try to unpack that feeling. As mentioned above, social isolation often leads to feeling more suspicious of people who you otherwise might not think much about. If you consume a lot of news, it’s easy to assume that crime rates are up and society is going to hell in a handbasket. But the reality is that crime rates have been on the decline for a long time. Violent crime, in particular, has been going down since the 1990s. 

All that being said, you still have a right to feel safe in your own home. You shouldn’t stalk your neighbors, but you can look up public records to check for things like sex offenders living on your city block. There are several websites where you can do this, including People Finders. Look into a People Finders review or two before you hand over any of your money, though. You want to make sure you’ll get useful information that you can use. 

You don’t want to get more paranoid. Chances are, you aren’t going to find anything too alarming, but a little safety check can boost your morale, and that can improve the neighborhood in a small but significant way. 

Make It Bicycle-Friendly

You’re more likely to see your neighbors if you’re out on the street doing things like running or biking. But jogging isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. Many people find riding a bicycle to be a lot more fun and social. For one thing, it’s easier to talk to someone while you’re riding a bike. When you’re running, you’re too busy trying to do things like breathe properly and not collapse. 

Getting on a bike is also easier on the joints than pounding the pavement. It comes with plenty of health benefits, and you can harness those benefits by looking into a bike share for your neighborhood. For a good example, check out cities and neighborhoods that have already incorporated such programs. The bike share in New Haven, CT, offers a low-cost, easy way for residents to get fit and make connections with people that they might not talk to otherwise. 

A 45-minute bike ride might not seem like a big deal. But it can be a big step toward bringing the neighborhood together.

Encourage Reading

Reading may sound like a solitary activity, but it can feel quite communal if you do it right. Installing a Little Free Library outside your house is a great way to get your neighbors reading. With any luck, they’ll also talk to you about the books they’re finding there. And it’s not just about taking books, at least not in the long run. 

As your home’s library becomes more established, people will start leaving books of their own. They may not all be winners, but many will be. And before too long, Little Free Libraries will start springing up all over your neighborhood. A neighborhood that encourages reading is going to be seen as more welcoming and pleasant than one that doesn’t. It adds character to your street, and it might even improve property values as well. 

Just make sure you’re following local city laws, as some places require you to get permission before installing a library.