Walking in two French neighborhoods: A study of how park numbers and locations relate to everyday walking

Rioux, L., Werner, C. M., Mokounkolo, R., & Brown, B. B.

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Rioux, L., Werner, C. M., Mokounkolo, R., & Brown, B. B. (2016). Walking in two French neighborhoods: A study of how park numbers and locations relate to everyday walking. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 48, 169–184. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2016.10.003

Appropriation , City Parks , Green Spaces , Intrinsic Motivation , Walking

Research indicates that people are drawn to green spaces with attractive amenities. This study extends that finding by comparing walking patterns in two neighborhoods with different numbers of parks; parks did not differ in rated attractiveness nor did neighborhoods differ substantially in rated walkability. Adults, aged 32e86 years (n 1⁄4 90), drew their 3 most recent walking routes on maps of their neighborhood. Analyses showed that participants’ round trips were longer by 265.5 m (0.16 mile) in the neighborhood with a single, large, centrally located park (p < 0.02). However, participants in the neighborhood with multiple, small, more distributed parks, visited more streets, p < 0.001, more streets with green spaces, p < 0.038, and used more varied routes, p < 0.012. Results suggest there are potential benefits to both layouts. Large centralized parks may invite longer walks; smaller, well-distributed parks may invite more varied routes suggestive of appropriation and motivation processes. Both layouts might be combined in a single neighborhood to attract more walkers.

Main finding
This study compares residents of two neighborhood types with regard to the presence of parks: one neighborhood with a single large park, and one neighborhood with many smaller parks. Residents of the single-park neighborhood walked further, on average, to get to their park, but multi-park residents walked more often and took more varied paths. In both cases, however, residents chose paths that were more attractive than other options in their respective neighborhoods. As such, single- and multi-park neighborhoods have unique benefits and drawbacks.

Description of method used in the article
Two neighborhoods in a French town, (a) one older neighborhood with a single, central park ("single-park") and (b) one newer neighborhood with multiple parks ("multi-park"). First, neighborhoods were analyzed for walkability (Irvine Minnesota Inventory [IMI] of walkability), street connectivity, and route directness. Second, residents of the two neighborhoods (N = 90) were interviewed and asked to draw a map of their three most recent walks or jogs in their neighborhoods. Analysis explores the relationship between walks for both groups as a function of (a) total distance walked and (b) unique segments (green and non-green).

Of some practical use if combined with other research

Organising categories

Walking or Rolling
Spatial Methods Survey
Environmental Psychology
Physical types
Geographic locations