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TitlePlanning and Design Strategies for Healthy Living, Parks, and Recreation in the Pottstown Area
LanguageEnglish
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Total Pages207
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Page 1

Planning  and  Design  

Strategies  for  Healthy  Living,

Parks,  and  Recreation

in  the  Pottstown  Area

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PREPARING  FOR  IMPLEMENTATION:  
STRATEGIES  AND  GUIDELINES  
PHASE  II  REPORT  2010

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PLANNING  AND  DESIGN  STRATEGIES
  FOR  HEALTHY  LIVING,  PARKS,  AND  RECREATION
  IN  THE  POTTSTOWN  AREA

  PREPARING  FOR  IMPLEMENTATION:  
  STRATEGIES  AND  GUIDELINES
  POTTSTOWN  PHASE  II  REPORT  2010

Principal  Investigator   Jawaid Haider, PhD

Co-­Principal  Investigators   Peter Aeschbacher
Mallika Bose, PhD

Research  Assistants   Calli Baker
Mark Haney
Carson Parr
Danielle Rivera
Michael Shamalla
Pawda Tjoa

Research  Sponsor   !e Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation
Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Additional  Support   Hamer Center for Community Design
H. Campbell and Eleanor R. Stuckeman
School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
!e Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania 16802

Page 103

92   PLANNING  OBJECTIVES    PARKS  +  RECREATION    |    Strategies  and  Guidelines  for  Healthy  Living,  Parks,  and  Recreation

4.1.1   Access  and  Levels  of  Physical  Activity  

Access refers to the availability and convenience of getting to a park. Proximity is one
indicator, and the mode of transportation is particularly important to consider. Logically,
any park within a reasonable driving distance is ‘proximate’, but a local park in a walkable
area o#ers the bene"t of active transportation choices. Walking is a popular form of physi-
cal activity across all ages, and considering travel to and from the park as part of a physical
activity regime e#ectively increases the overall rates of physical activity. !is makes it de-
sirable to include as much access as possible; this can be considered as ‘coverage.’

A growing body of research among health and parks scholars is de"ning the relation-
ship between parks and the built environment, and clari"es the need for well-considered
community design and planning. Consider these "ndings:

Access to public spaces such as parks has been associated with higher levels of
walking, and individuals who used public open spaces were nearly three times
more likely to achieve recommended levels of physical activity (Giles-Corti et aI.
(2005).
Access to parks, indoor gyms, and treadmills has been positively associated with
physical activity (Brownson, Baker, Housemann, Brennan, & Bacak, 2001), and
the impact of proximity and coverage has been shown to be an important factor
in increased physical activity rates (Giles-Corti et al., 2005).
Other recent studies have demonstrated positive relationships between access
and the amount of time children spend in play spaces (Sallis et al., 1997), and an
increase in physical activity levels near trails (Huston et al., 2003).
Proximity, convenience, and perceptions of safety have a signi"cant impact on
whether people visit parks, for physical activity or otherwise (Humpel, Owen, &
Leslie, 2002). Convenient access to parks has been associated with higher levels
of vigorous physical activity (Sallis, Prochoaska, & Taylor, 2000), and even the
perception of access has been shown to a#ect visitation for both adults and chil-
dren (Sallis, Bauman, & Pratt, 1998; Hoehner, Brennan, Brownson, Handy &
Killingsworth, 2003).

Within the study area, young adults who participated in the focus groups stated that
they visited parks closest to their homes most often, and they preferred parks with activi-
ties geared to their age groups, including basketball, tennis, and volleyball. Particularly
notable was their explicit statement that one of the factors which made park visitation
enjoyable was the opportunity to socialize with other young adults. Overall, the young
adults noted that the park location and the presence of their most desired amenity were
the determining factors.

Page 104

Strategies  and  Guidelines  for  Healthy  Living,  Parks,  and  Recreation    |    PARKS  +  RECREATION    PLANNING  OBJECTIVES   93

4.1.2   Walking  as  Exercise  and  Transportation  

As noted above, walking to parks has the potential to add to the overall amount of
physical activity. !is is important because it suggests that not all park amenities must be
geared to active recreation; in fact, it emphasizes the importance of other activities which
may be attractors for people to walk to parks. Walking is a preferred mode of transporta-
tion because it is acceptable and accessible for a range of age and ethnic groups (Brownson
et al., 2000).

However, the resident survey showed that walking to parks is not a very common oc-
currence: Only 9.9% indicated walking as their primary form of transportation. Just over
50% drive to parks, and only 3.4% ride their bicycles to parks. !ere are several reasons
why this situation may exist: nearby parks do not have the desired facilities (an opportu-
nity issue), or it is not convenient or perceived as safe to walk or bike to a local park (an
access issue). Both of these issues are covered in this report, but access is speci"cally ad-
dresses in this section.

Studies suggest that people would like to walk more than they do now. In a recent
national study, 55% of respondents indicated they would like to walk more during their
day, either for exercise or for transportation (Belden, Russonello, & Stewart, 2003). Fur-
thermore, 63% of respondents stated they would like to walk more for their daily errands.
Parks as destinations, along with trails and greenways as connectors, provide opportunities
for people to ful"ll their desires for increased walking. Linking parks and trails to daily
destinations and sites of interest encourages walking overall. Researchers have found that
once people begin to walk as part of their exercise regime, parks and neighborhood streets
are important environmental supports. In one study, almost 25% of respondents indicated
neighborhood streets as important resources, over 28% indicated parks as important, and
almost 30% valued the presence of walking and jogging trails (Brownson et al., 2001).

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