Factors influencing long-term city park visitations for mid-sized US cities: A big data study using smartphone user mobility

Thanks SafeGraph for providing us data to make this study happen.

City parks provide essential services for the physical activities and the health improvement of residents. Most related literature focuses on the factors affecting park visitations in large cities, but relatively little is known regarding long-term park visitations, especially in mid-sized cities. By using smartphone mobility data tracking the activities of 28 parks in the College Station and Bryan Metropolitan area of Texas, USA, we present the temporal and spatial patterns of park usage within a two-year timeframe. We model the effects of the socio-economic, built environment, climate, and spatial/accessibility factors on park visitations through a fixed effects regression. Results show variations among park service areas. Water bodies and playgrounds are significant factors enhancing park visitations while walking paths, sports facilities, and pavilions are not. Contrary to previous research, high-income block groups show lower participation in park activities. The study also reveals how smartphone mobility data can be applied to case studies investigating urban design/planning and understanding of the social aspects associated with urban greenspaces. It provides empirical evidence on park visitations as well as what factors future planners, landscape architects, and park managers should consider when deciding on park investment and planning decisions for mid-sized cities.