Spatial Disparities in the Distribution of Parks and Green Spaces in the USA

The authors of this study assess whether the spatial accessibility of parks and green spaces are correlated to race/ethnicity or poverty among census tracts in the conterminous U.S.

Measurements of neighborhood sociodemographic status were indexed by the percentage of residents from the 2006–2010 American Community Survey living under the federal poverty level. A total of 71,763 census tracts were included.

Park and green space accessibility, in terms of environmental justice, embraces the notion that everyone is entitled to environmental amenities regardless of socioeconomic status. The study included 62,318 national, state, and local parks from the conterminous U.S. Green space accessibility was defined as the percent of vegetated land (excluding agricultural uses) within a census tract while park access was a population-weighted distance to the closest seven parks.

Key Finding:

  • Urban/suburban census tracts with higher levels of poverty and greater concentration of Black or Hispanic residents were closer to parks. However, the opposite was found in rural areas: poverty levels were positively associated with distance to parks.

Further work should be conducted in this area to determine the underlying patterns of spatial disparities with regard to urban versus rural settings. A need exists to ensure greater environmental equity across sociodemographic populations.

Introduction to the Active Living Research Supplement

  1. 1. Translating Research to Policy Through Health Impact Assessment in Clark County, Washington
  2. 2. Uneven Playing Field--Effective Strategies to Address Health Inequity Through Active Living Research
  3. 3. Using Evidence to Create Active Communities: Stories from the Field--Policy and Research with Chicago's Child Care Centers
  4. 4. Trends in Presentations of Environmental and Policy Studies Related to Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity at Society of Behavioral Medicine, 1995-2010
  5. 5. Spatial Disparities in the Distribution of Parks and Green Spaces in the USA
  6. 6. Exploring the Distribution of Park Availability, Features, and Quality Across Kansas City, Missouri by Income and Race/Ethnicity
  7. 7. Perceptions of Neighborhood Park Quality
  8. 8. Gender Differences in Self-Report Physical Activity and Park and Recreation Facility Use Among Latinos in Wake County, North Carolina
  9. 9. Beyond Distance: Children's School Travel Mode Choice
  10. 10. The Perceived and Built Environment Surrounding Urban Schools and Physical Activity Among Adolescent Girls
  11. 11. Aesthetic Amenities and Safety Hazards Associated with Walking and Bicycling for Transportation in New York City
  12. 12. Does Neighbourhood Walkability Moderate the Effects of Mass Media Communication Strategies to Promote Regular Physical Activity?
  13. 13. Individual-and Area-Level Disparities in Access to the Road Network, Subway System and a Public Bicycle Share Program on the Island of Montreal, Canada
  14. 14. Effect of Bike Lane Infrastructure Improvements on Ridership in One New Orleans Neighborhood
  15. 15. Using Google Street View to Audit the Built Environment
  16. 16. School Sport Participation Under Two School Sport Policies
  17. 17. Physical Education and Student Activity
  18. 18. District and School Physical Education Policies
  19. 19. Predictors of Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) in African American Young Adolescents
  20. 20. Pathways to Outdoor Recreation, Physical Activity, and Delinquency Among Urban Latino Adolescents
  21. 21. Locations of Joint Physical Activity in Parent-Child Pairs Based on Accelerometer and GPS Monitoring