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Modeling spatial accessibility to parks: a national study
  • Published Date:
    May 09 2011
  • Source:
    Int J Health Geogr. 2011; 10:31.
Filetype[PDF - 1.02 MB]


Details:
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  • Description:
    Background

    Parks provide ideal open spaces for leisure-time physical activity and important venues to promote physical activity. The spatial configuration of parks, the number of parks and their spatial distribution across neighborhood areas or local regions, represents the basic park access potential for their residential populations. A new measure of spatial access to parks, population-weighted distance (PWD) to parks, combines the advantages of current park access approaches and incorporates the information processing theory and probability access surface model to more accurately quantify residential population's potential spatial access to parks.

    Results

    The PWD was constructed at the basic level of US census geography - blocks - using US park and population data. This new measure of population park accessibility was aggregated to census tract, county, state and national levels. On average, US residential populations are expected to travel 6.7 miles to access their local neighborhood parks. There are significant differences in the PWD to local parks among states. The District of Columbia and Connecticut have the best access to local neighborhood parks with PWD of 0.6 miles and 1.8 miles, respectively. Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming have the largest PWDs of 62.0, 37.4, and 32.8 miles, respectively. Rural states in the western and Midwestern US have lower neighborhood park access, while urban states have relatively higher park access.

    Conclusions

    The PWD to parks provides a consistent platform for evaluating spatial equity of park access and linking with population health outcomes. It could be an informative evaluation tool for health professionals and policy makers. This new method could be applied to quantify geographic accessibility of other types of services or destinations, such as food, alcohol, and tobacco outlets.