Short-term associations between objective crime, park-use, and park-based physical activity in low-income neighborhoods

Oriol Marquet*, J. Aaron Hipp, Claudia Alberico, Jing Huei Huang, Dustin Fry, Elizabeth Mazak, Gina S. Lovasi, Myron F. Floyd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Crime and safety perceptions are commonly cited barriers to park use and physical activity (PA). Given the importance of parks as settings for outdoor recreation and physical activity, the presence of crime may have a detrimental effect on public health. This study uses objective police crime reports and observational park use data to assess type of crime and the time when the crime was committed effects on park user behaviors in 20 parks located in low-income neighborhoods in New York City. The System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) was used to assess the number of park users and their physical activity during 78 park visits in Spring 2017. The association between crime rates and park use was assessed using two types of crimes (violent and property crimes). The timing of the crime was assessed using the crimes committed within periods of one week, one month, and three months prior to the visit to the park. By including objective measures of crime together with the exact time on which they were committed, we were able to analyze the short and long term effects of crime on park behavior. Overall, there was a consistent negative association between crime and park use. This relationship was stronger at the 1 month and 3 months' period and weaker at the 1-week period. Violent crimes were strongly associated with lower park use, and crimes proved to be associated with child park use to a greater degree. Girls were more affected by crime than boys.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105735
JournalPreventive Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • Children park use
  • Crime
  • Crime reports
  • Park physical activity
  • Park use


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