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Comparing Demographic Features of Trail-Users Obtained via Direct Observation with Current Census Data
135st APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (2007)
  • Steven P. Hooker
  • Julian A. Reed
  • Anna E. Price, Sacred Heart University

Studies describing characteristics of trail users are limited in number. The purpose of this study was to compare the demographic features of trail-users on a two-mile rail/trail segment obtained via direct observation with data from two abutting census tracts. The System for Observing Play and Activity and Recreation in Communities was used to assess trail use. Separate observations of trail user gender, age and race/ethnicity were made four times a day (7:30am, 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 6:00pm) for 7 consecutive days. During spring, summer and fall of 2006, 1,516 individuals were observed on the trail. A significant difference between female and male trail users was found (689 vs. 827, [48% vs. 52%]; F=23.87, p=.000). Approximately 57% of residents of the census tracts abutting the trail were female and 43% were male. The vast majority of trail users observed were adults (n=1,136, 75%; F=9.25; p=.000). Older adults (age 65+; n=193; 12.7%) were the second most frequently observed group using the trail. Few children and teenagers were observed. The finding for age groups among trail users was consistent with the current census data for age proportions of persons living near the rail/trail.. Trail-users were primarily Caucasian (71%), with 29% being non-Caucasian. However, census tract data indicated that 62% of nearby residents were Caucasian and 38% were non-Caucasian (mostly African American). The users of this rail/trail tended to be Caucasian, male adults. However, demographic features of the rail/trail users were inconsistent with the demographic patterns of residents living in two census tracts abutting this rail/trail.

  • trail users,
  • physical activity,
  • demographics
Publication Date
November 5, 2007
Citation Information
Steven P. Hooker, Julian A. Reed and Anna E. Price. "Comparing Demographic Features of Trail-Users Obtained via Direct Observation with Current Census Data" 135st APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (2007)
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