Park Use in Low-Income Urban Neighborhoods: Who Uses the Parks and Why?

We examined individual and environmental influences on park use among residents of two low-income predominantly African American neighborhoods to identify determinants of park use in lower-income urban neighborhoods. We analyzed data from interviews of 1003 individuals randomly selected from the neighborhoods, systematic observations of neighborhood parks, and police-recorded crime incidence within a .5-mi buffer around each park. Most participants (82.4%) had previously visited a neighborhood park, and nearly half (46.2%) had visited one in the past month. However, only 8.5% of participants were aware of their closest park. Compared with the parks closest to home, parks that participants reported visiting most were larger and had more amenities and features and fewer incivilities and reported crimes of a serious nature. Park use among residents of lower-income neighborhoods may be increased by offering more amenities and features and ensuring the presence of a well-appointed park within easy walking distance of residents’ homes.