Why Use and Not Use Neighborhood Parks: Cases in Three Park-Rich Districts of Izmir
For their well-being, all age groups are encouraged to use public green spaces (or parks). However, parks’ presence in neighborhoods is not enough for dwellers’ high level of uses of these public greens. Whereas most people have various conditions and reasons for using neighborhoods parks, some residents do not use these parks even in close range to their dwelling. This study aims at identifying kinds of reasons and conditions for people’s use and non-use of neighborhood parks. The results can guide park design alternatives in respect to socio-demographic characteristics of neighborhoods. Based on our survey with 2127 park users and 339 non-users in three park-rich urban districts (Karşıyaka, Bornova, and Güzelbahçe) of Izmir in 2018, we investigate the reasons and conditions for park uses in relation to the respondents’ age, gender and other individual characteristics and to these parks’ and neighborhoods’ physical and social characteristics. Study findings underline that people’s park use patterns differ especially along with their age characteristics related to their gender and paid-job responsibilities and income level. While such demographic characteristics and also certain park amenities vary among three urban districts of Izmir, adolescent and senior users have contrasting park use patterns especially in the parks of residential versus commercial areas. Non-uses of parks relate to the presence of alternate open spaces (e.g., seashore and own gardens) and the concerns about parks’ conditions without climate sensitive design, with stray dogs or “too much children” and also about parks without “crowd and brightness” especially for women alone there.