Reconsidering Access: Park Facilities and Neighborhood Disamenities in New York City

Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.
Journal of Urban Health (Impact Factor: 1.9). 03/2011; 88(2):297-310. DOI: 10.1007/s11524-011-9551-z
Source: PubMed


With increasing concern about rising rates of obesity, public health researchers have begun to examine the availability of parks and other spaces for physical activity, particularly in cities, to assess whether access to parks reduces the risk of obesity. Much of the research in this field has shown that proximity to parks may support increased physical activity in urban environments; however, as yet, there has been limited consideration of environmental impediments or disamenities that might influence individuals' perceptions or usage of public recreation opportunities. Prior research suggests that neighborhood disamenities, for instance crime, pedestrian safety, and noxious land uses, might dissuade people from using parks or recreational facilities and vary by neighborhood composition. Motivated by such research, this study estimates the relationship between neighborhood compositional characteristics and measures of park facilities, controlling for variation in neighborhood disamenities, using geographic information systems (GIS) data for New York City parks and employing both kernel density estimation and distance measures. The central finding is that attention to neighborhood disamenities can appreciably alter the relationship between neighborhood composition and spatial access to parks. Policy efforts to enhance the recreational opportunities in urban areas should expand beyond a focus on availability to consider also the hazards and disincentives that may influence park usage.

Download full-text


Available from: Andrew Rundle, Feb 17, 2014
  • Source
    • "Baran et al. (2013) examined several measures of the neighborhood built and social environment (e.g., land uses, sidewalks, crime, racial heterogeneity ) and found that park size and setting as well as sidewalk availability were positively associate with park usage while crime, poverty and racial diversity of the park neighborhood were negatively associated with park use. In one analysis in New York City that actually explored racial disparities in the neighborhood contexts around parks, it was reported that people of color had access to parks that were disproportionately adjacent to disamenities, including crime, lack of traffic safety, and noxious land uses in comparison to the parks that were accessible to Whites (Weiss et al., 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Parks are important resources for facilitating community health. Using an environmental justice framework, this study in Kansas City, Missouri examined disparities by income and race/ethnicity for bordering land uses, densities of incivilities (e.g., vandalism, litter), unhealthy retail establishments in neighborhoods surrounding parks. Low and medium income and high minority park neighborhoods were more likely to be surrounded by higher densities of incivilities and to have a moderate density of FF restaurants. Low-income park neighborhoods were five times more likely to have a moderate density of other unhealthy establishments compared to parks in high-income areas. Future research and environmental justice efforts should explore policies that reduce unhealthy characteristics of park neighborhoods to encourage increased usage of these important community settings.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Journal of Leisure Research
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: One strategy to address health problems related to insufficient physical activity is to examine modifiable neighborhood characteristics associated with active transportation. PURPOSE: The aim of this study is to evaluate whether neighborhoods with more aesthetic amenities (sidewalk cafés, street trees, and clean sidewalks) and fewer safety hazards (pedestrian-auto fatalities and homicides) are associated with active transportation. METHODS: The 2003 Community Health Survey in New York City, which asked about active transportation (walking or bicycling >10 blocks) in the past 30 days, was linked to ZIP-code population census and built environment characteristics. Adjusted associations were estimated for dichotomous (any active transportation versus none) and continuous (trip frequency) active transportation outcomes. RESULTS: Among 8,034 adults, those living near sidewalk cafés were 10 % more likely to report active transportation (p = 0.01). Homicide rate was associated with less frequent active transportation among those reporting any active transportation (p = 0.002). CONCLUSIONS: Investments in aesthetic amenities or homicide prevention may help to promote active transportation.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · Annals of Behavioral Medicine
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The geography of recreational open space might be inequitable in terms of minority neighborhood racial/ethnic composition and neighborhood poverty, perhaps due in part to residential segregation. This study evaluated the association between minority neighborhood racial/ethnic composition, neighborhood poverty, and recreational open space in Boston, Massachusetts (US). Across Boston census tracts, we computed percent non-Hispanic Black, percent Hispanic, and percent families in poverty as well as recreational open space density. We evaluated spatial autocorrelation in study variables and in the ordinary least squares (OLS) regression residuals via the Global Moran's I. We then computed Spearman correlations between the census tract socio-demographic characteristics and recreational open space density, including correlations adjusted for spatial autocorrelation. After this, we computed OLS regressions or spatial regressions as appropriate. Significant positive spatial autocorrelation was found for neighborhood socio-demographic characteristics (all p value = 0.001). We found marginally significant positive spatial autocorrelation in recreational open space (Global Moran's I = 0.082; p value = 0.053). However, we found no spatial autocorrelation in the OLS regression residuals, which indicated that spatial models were not appropriate. There was a negative correlation between census tract percent non-Hispanic Black and recreational open space density (r (S) = -0.22; conventional p value = 0.005; spatially adjusted p value = 0.019) as well as a negative correlation between predominantly non-Hispanic Black census tracts (>60 % non-Hispanic Black in a census tract) and recreational open space density (r (S) = -0.23; conventional p value = 0.003; spatially adjusted p value = 0.007). In bivariate and multivariate OLS models, percent non-Hispanic Black in a census tract and predominantly Black census tracts were associated with decreased density of recreational open space (p value < 0.001). Consistent with several previous studies in other geographic locales, we found that Black neighborhoods in Boston were less likely to have recreational open spaces, indicating the need for policy interventions promoting equitable access. Such interventions may contribute to reductions and disparities in obesity.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2012 · Journal of Urban Health
Show more