Safe Routes to Play? Pedestrian and Bicyclist Crashes Near Parks in Los Angeles

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BackgroundAreas near parks may present active travelers with higher risks than in other areas due to the confluence of more pedestrians and bicyclists, younger travelers, and the potential for increased traffic volumes. These risks may be amplified in low-income and minority neighborhoods due to generally higher rates of active travel or lack of safety infrastructure. This paper examines active travel crashes near parks and builds on existing research around disparities in park access and extends research from the Safe Routes to School and Safe Routes to Transit movements to parks.MethodsWe utilized the Green Visions Parks coverage, encompassing Los Angeles County and several other cities in the LA Metropolitan area. We used negative bionomial regression modeling techniques and ten years of geolocated pedestrian and bicyclist crash data to assess the number of active travel injuries within a quarter mile (˜400 m) buffer around parks. We controlled for differential exposures to active travel using travel survey data and Bayesian smoothing models.ResultsOf 1,311,736 parties involved in 608,530 crashes, there were 896,359 injuries and 7317 fatalities. The number of active travel crash injuries is higher within a quarter-mile of a park, with a ratio of 1.52 per 100,000 residents, compared to areas outside that buffer. This higher rate near parks is amplified in neighborhoods with high proportions of minority and low-income residents. Higher traffic levels are highly predictive of active travel crash injuries.ConclusionsPlanners should consider the higher risks of active travel near parks and the socioeconomic modification of these risks. Additional traffic calming and safety infrastructure may be needed to provide safe routes to parks.HighlightsThe active travel crash injuries per population are higher in park adjacent areas.It is amplified in low-income and minority areas after controlling for exposures.The effect of vehicle traffic is more pronounced in park adjacent areas.

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