Access to Parks and Open Space

The HCI Access to Parks and Open Space indicator measures the percentage of a neighborhood's area that is dedicated to park space. Access to nature through safe, clean parks and open space has been shown to improve public health in many ways including increased exercise and physical activity, and decreased fatigue and increased productiveness. Studies also find links between increased time outdoors and decreased attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Trees and green space in parks also help mitigate negative climate issues by lowering air temperature, improving air quality by removing pollutants, and absorbing and cleaning water run off from impervious surfaces. Found in the natural areas domain, Access to Parks and Open Space is also relevant economic health, social cohesion, healthy systems and public safety, environmental hazards, and neighborhood characteristics. Most local governments have Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data available on local parks; NAVTEQ offers an alternative commercial GIS database.

Neighborhoodsort descending Indicator Value Rank
Blackstone 3.4% 17
Charles 6.5% 8
College Hill 1.6% 21
Downtown 5.8% 10
Elmhurst 2.7% 19
Elmwood 3.5% 15
Federal Hill 3.6% 14
Fox Point 10.2% 6
Hartford 9.4% 7
Hope 1.4% 22
Lower South Providence 3.0% 18
Manton 0.0% 25
Mount Hope 21.0% 3
Mount Pleasant 21.5% 2
Olneyville 5.0% 11
Reservoir 4.2% 13
Silver Lake 16.4% 4
Smith Hill 2.5% 20
South Elmwood 76.6% 1
Upper South Providence 0.9% 23
Valley 4.8% 12
Wanskuck 6.5% 8
Washington Park 0.6% 24
Wayland 16.2% 5
West End 3.5% 15

Key Citations:
1. Bowler DE, Buyung-Ali LM, Knight TM, Pullin AS. (2010) A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments. BMC Public Health. 2010 Aug 4;10:456. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20684754.
2. Grant RH, Heisler GM, Gao W. (2002) Estimation of pedestrian level UV exposure under trees. Photochem Photobiol. 2002 Apr; 75(4):369-76. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12003126
3. Kuo FE, Taylor AF. (2004) A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: evidence from a national study. Am J Public Health. 2004 Sep ;94(9):1580-6. Available at: http://www.niu.edu/~carter/courses/526/articles/Kuo_and_Taylor.pdf
4. TPL (2013). Economic and Health Benefits. Trust for Public Land. Accessed April 2013. Available at: Effects of Parks on Health: http://www.tpl.org/research/parks/economic-health-benefits.html.