DefinitionProximity of residential neighborhoods to parks and public elementary schools
NumeratorNumber of people living within a half mile of a park [[br]][[br]]
Number of children ages 5-9 years living within a half mile of a park
DenominatorTotal number of people in each geographic unit (i.e., county)[[br]][[br]]
Children ages 5-9 years
Data Interpretation IssuesThe estimates for the population residing within a half-mile of a park are derived estimates. The area-proportion estimates for race and ethnic subgroups are limited to 2010 data. Hispanic, White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other Non-Hispanic, and Multirace Non-Hispanic were summed to determine the total proportion for each block. Each of these estimates were rounded at each of the geographic aggregation units then summed for the total half-mile population estimate. We employed this approach to maintain internal consistency within the county, state, and national estimates. It is possible a statistically insignificant difference in the estimate could occur due to rounding.
Parks: Using percent of population living within a half mile of a park as a proxy for proximity may underestimate the number of people who have access to parks in populations that are willing to travel farther to reach a park. Similarly, people may use parks located close to their schools or places of work rather than parks close to their homes. Conversely, this may overestimate access since walk routes to park entrances may be unsafe or much farther than a direct line from a residence to a park boundary.
Schools: Living in close proximity to a school does not guarantee active commuting; there are additional factors, including personal preference, safety, and convenience, that families may consider when deciding how to travel to a school. Radial proximity may also be different from the actual distance that families travel along street networks to reach a school. Low street segment connectivity, poor intersection density, traffic congestion, and road condition may make the actual distance traveled longer than that assumed through radial measures, which may influence children's type of transportation to school.
Additionally, data entry errors and omissions may be inherent in the data.
Why Is This Important?In a well-designed community, homes, parks, stores, and schools are connected by safe walking and biking routes. Such routes allow all members of the community a chance to enjoy the outdoors and improve physical and mental health. The closer you live to a park or school, the more likely you are to walk or bike to those places. However, only a small number of people in the United States live within half a mile of a park or public school.