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Contrary to Common Observations in the West, Urban Park Access Is Only Weakly Related to Neighborhood Socioeconomic Conditions in Beijing, China

by Xingyue Tu 1,2, Ganlin Huang 1,2,* and Jianguo Wu 1,3
1
State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology (ESPRE), Center for Human-Environment System Sustainability (CHESS), Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
2
School of Natural Resources, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
3
School of Life Sciences and School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1115; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041115
Received: 1 March 2018 / Revised: 31 March 2018 / Accepted: 3 April 2018 / Published: 9 April 2018
Parks provide critical ecosystem services to urban residents. Park access critically determines how parks are used by residents. Many existing studies, which mostly have been conducted in developed countries, reported that park access disproportionately benefits the socioeconomically advantaged groups. To test if this observation also holds true in developing countries, we examined the park access and its relationship with socioeconomic conditions in Beijing, China. We used a buffering method and a road network-based analysis to calculate the park access of 130 neighborhoods, and applied the Pearson correlation to examine how neighborhood park access is related to socioeconomic conditions. Our results showed that (1) the park access decreased from 76% in the downtown areas to 24% in the suburbs; (2) the correlation coefficients (r) between socioeconomic conditions and park access were all smaller than 0.3 (p < 0.05)—that is, explaining less than 8% of the variability. Our study indicated that neighborhood socioeconomic conditions were only weakly associated with park access in Beijing and did not support the common phenomenon in western countries. Such a contradiction might be explained by the fact that park planning in Beijing is funded and administered by the city government and influenced by the central government’s policy, whereas in most developed countries market sectors play a critical role in park planning. Our research suggested that urban planning funded by governments, when aimed at improving the wellbeing of all urban residents, may effectively reduce potential environmental inequalities. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban parks; urban greenspace; park access; neighborhood socioeconomic conditions; environmental justice urban parks; urban greenspace; park access; neighborhood socioeconomic conditions; environmental justice
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Tu, X.; Huang, G.; Wu, J. Contrary to Common Observations in the West, Urban Park Access Is Only Weakly Related to Neighborhood Socioeconomic Conditions in Beijing, China. Sustainability 2018, 10, 1115.

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