Finding your way: exploring urban park users’ engagement with a wayfinding intervention through intercept go-along interviews

Jack Hardwicke*, Declan Ryan, Kimberley Hill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Urban greenspaces offer a range of health and well-being benefits, but there are many barriers to access which may reduce equitable access. Lack of knowledge about routes, spatial anxiety and low confidence have been cited as barriers to urban greenspace access. Small-scale wayfinding interventions to increase greenspace knowledge and use, such as mapping and signage, may help alleviate such barriers. Therefore, this study explores urban park users’ engagement with a wayfinding intervention from a natural experimental study- The Delapré Walk Project.

Method: A qualitative approach was taken, with 16 intercept go-along interviews conducted with 28 local park users while they engaged with the greenspace. Interviews lasted 20-minutes, on average (range 10 – 45 minutes), and data was analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.

Results: Barriers to greenspace access included a lack of seating and unfamiliarity with distances and footpath terrains. The inclusion of a walking route distance on wayfinding signage was valued by visitors, enabling them to make capability decisions about distances to be walked. The greenspace offered an escape from the urban environment, with some respondents explicitly stating that they did not want to see urban infrastructure within the park. This carries an important implication for wayfinding design to ensure the materials used are in-keeping with the surrounding environment. Frequent park users positively received the wayfinding intervention and whilst the main values were seen for infrequent visitors, those familiar with the park also reported increased engagement with the greenspace due to the intervention.

Conclusions: Our research shows the value of low-cost and effective community-informed wayfinding interventions, which are essential for increasing recreational walking activity and community health within urban greenspaces. Importantly, our findings highlight wide-reaching benefits, particularly for infrequent greenspace users, older adults and those with mobility impairments, demonstrating how such interventions can help ensure equitable access to greenspace for everyone.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCities and Health
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Jan 2024

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