The purpose of this study is to test the hypothesis that access to parks in New York City is not equitable across racial and ethnic categories. It builds on previous research that has linked access to parks and open space with increased physical activity, which in turn may reduce the risk for adverse health outcomes related to obesity. Systematic patterns of uneven access to parks might help to explain disparities in these health outcomes across sociodemographic populations that are not fully explained by individual-level risk factors and health behaviors, and therefore access to parks becomes an environmental justice issue. This study is designed to shed light on the “unpatterned inequities” of park distributions identified in previous studies of New York City park access. It uses a combination of network analysis and a cadastral-based expert dasymetric system (CEDS) to estimate the racial/ethnic composition of populations within a reasonable walking distance of 400m from parks. The distance to the closest park, number of parks within walking distance, amount of accessible park space, and number of physical activity sites are then evaluated across racial/ethnic categories, and are compared to the city-wide populations using odds ratios. The odds ratios revealed patterns that at first glance appear to contradict the notion of distributional inequities. However, discussion of the results points to the need for reassessing what is meant by “access” to more thoroughly consider the aspects of parks that are most likely to contribute to physical activity and positive health outcomes.
Miyake, Keith K.; Maroko, Andrew R.; Grady, Kristen L.; Maantay, Juliana A.; and Arno, Peter S.
"Not Just A Walk in The Park: methodological improvements for determining environmental justice implications of park access in New York City for the promotion of physical activity,"
Cities and the Environment (CATE):
1, Article 8.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/cate/vol3/iss1/8