Park Quality and Road Walkability in Greater Noida, India: A Case Study Demonstrating GIS for Assessing Barriers to Being Physically Active in Urban Areas

Park Quality and Road Walkability in Greater Noida, India: A Case Study Demonstrating GIS for Assessing Barriers to Being Physically Active in Urban Areas

Prasad Avinash Pathak (FLAME University, India), Neha Pagidipati (Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke University, USA), Shayna M. Clancy (Duke University, USA), Gatha Sharma (Shiv Nadar University, India) and Truls Ostbye (Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/IJAGR.2020070103

Abstract

In urbanizing India, walkability and outdoor physical activities are essential for a healthy lifestyle. Urban roads need to be assessed for walkability, and public parks need to be assessed as spaces for physical activities. Not many studies have looked at both the aspects together, and use of GIS is not prevalent. This study demonstrates use of GIS to examine various parameters of walkability and parks in the city of Greater Noida, India. GIS was found highly effective for collecting information before performing survey of selected sectors, post-field data visualization, and data integration to understand spatial variability of walkability and usefulness of individual parks. Only one of the sectors was identified as having better walkability as well as good quality of parks for physical activities. Many low-income sectors did not have parks. Walkability parameters had a spatial pattern within each sector, and urban and rural sectors differed in providing walkability.
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Literature Review

Urban public parks provide space to carry out physical activity, such as walking, jogging, open-door gymnastics, and yoga. While the importance of public parks is well recognized for public health, many a times parks might be designed only as green spaces and may not be conducive for physical activity (Bedmi-Rung et al., 2005).

Several park assessment tools have been developed. One good example is the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC). It was developed by McKenzie and colleagues (McKenzie et al., 2006), and they also studied eight public parks in low-income neighbourhoods using that tool (Cohen et al., 2007). They observed that parks were the major space of physical activity for these communities. The level of physical activity by residents was dependent upon the proximity of the parks in addition to accessibility, availability of equipment, and management.

The city of Portland, Maine, USA has also prepared a public park assessment tool which categorizes the criteria into equipment accessibility, trails inside parks, presence of washrooms, and maintenance systems inside the parks (The Trust for Public Land, 2016). Similarly, the Community Park Audit Tool (Kaczynski et al., 2012) is an easy-to-use tool which segregates the park attributes into five domains: Park surroundings, Access, Activity areas, Quality and Safety.

If the parks exist in urban areas but are not easily accessible, then they may remain unused. The parks must be accessible by walking, otherwise they cannot be utilized for health benefits (Stark et al., 2014). Walkability in urban areas is critical, in general, but is especially in the context of public parks.

On the other hand, when walkability studies are carried out, they often include consideration of walkways and additional, optional facilities – for example, benches, green cover, and crossings. Depending on the purpose and the target population, different groups of walkability parameters are selected. Thus, assessment and interpretation of walkability may to some extent be subjective. For example, a study carried out by Liddle and colleagues (Liddle et al., 2014) for Belfast city focused only on the aging population of the region. Therefore, the study paid more attention to impediments on walkways (cars parked, tree trunks hindering walking, uneven surfaces) and to the safety of aging people. In contrast, the University of Delaware, Institute of Public Administration published an auditing tool for walkability which was more general and focused on the community at large (O’Hanlon et al., 2016). This latter tool assessed walking facilities and their maintenance (based on walking, stroller and wheelchair movement) and pedestrian amenities (such as curbs, quality of sidewalk, presence of sidewalk on both sides, presence of greenery along sidewalks, presence of buffer between sidewalk and road).

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