Park access is about more than just distance to get to the park.

For the attention of: Those responsible for managing green public space and parks, city government, directors of parks and recreation and green space advocates.

The problem: Current policy prioritizes time to walk to the park as a measure of access. We sought to investigate a more holistic model of park access that would promote equity.

What we did and why: We designed a survey tool based on a comprehensive theory of access. We then performed door to door administration of the survey in two historically disinvested communities bordering a large park in Baltimore City, Maryland, USA to determine factors associated with self-reported park use.

What this study adds: We found that whilst time to walk to the park is an important metric, it is insufficient to describe the barriers to park use in urban communities.

  • We found that park access was associated with perceived safety and programming but not with time to walk to the park.
  • We also found that those who reported the neighbourhood as less affordable were more likely to use the park.

Implications for city policy and practice: Our finding shows that

  • Factors that influence perceptions of park safety should be prioritized as essential components of park access.
  • Activity programming should be considered an essential component of park accessibility, and should be designed and implemented with a focus towards the local community.

Full research article: Beyond proximity and towards equity: a multidimensional view of urban greenspace access by Daniel Hindman, Jessie Chien, Craig Pollack.