Online Program

Early Adoption and Perceptions of Chicago's New 606 Trail and Park System

Monday, November 2, 2015

Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, FAAN, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Stephanie Tiwari, MPH, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Sandy Slater, PhD, MS, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Michael Lange, BA, Department of Planning and Development, Chicago Park District, Chicago, IL
Ana Clara Duran, PhD, Department of Health Systems Science, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Elizabeth Tarlov, PhD, RN, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background/Purpose. Physical activity (PA) has numerous health benefits, yet few Americans achieve recommended levels. Access to green space, including trails, may help to increase PA. In June 2015, the 606, a $95 million rail-trail conversion, opened in Chicago. The 606 is a 2.7-mile multi-use, elevated trail with four ground-level parks that connects four diverse communities with some of the least amount of green space in Chicago. This study examined early adoption and perceptions of the 606.

Methods. In July 2015, intercept surveys were conducted with 606 users who were 18+ years old and lived in Chicago (n=258). Data collectors invited trail users at entrance/exit ramps to complete a 5-10 minute survey in English or Spanish.

Results. Preliminary analyses show that 65% completing the survey were women; 71% 26-55 years of age; 35% Latino/Hispanic and 7% African American; and 70% had a bachelor’s degree. One-third reported using the trail 4 times per week and 28% 1-3 times per week, while it was the first trail visit for 29%. The most common reasons for using the trail were to be outdoors (69%), health and well-being (64%), and stress reduction (46%). Walking was the most frequent activity (88%), followed by jogging (18%) socializing (17%), and biking (16%). Almost half reported engaging in more PA since using the trail. Most reported that the 606’s impact on surrounding communities was “very positive”. The most frequent concerns were not enough restrooms (43%), being hit by a bike (41%), and not enough shade (33%). One-third expressed concern about crime and/or gangs, while 23% reported concern about rising housing prices and/or resident displacement. 43% had used the 606 to visit a community that s/he had not often visited.

Conclusions. Perceptions of the 606 among early adopters were generally positive but reveal areas for improvement and raise questions about the extent to which the 606 will benefit those of lower socioeconomic status. Beyond physical health improvements, the 606 may relieve stress, facilitate social interactions, and reduce neighborhood social boundaries. Policies and other interventions to increase green space can have multiple positive effects, but should be monitored for unintended consequences.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe potential benefits of recreational trail developments beyond physical activity. Discuss potential unintended consequences of recreational trail developments.

Keyword(s): Physical Activity, Built Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a researcher trained in social and built environmental determinants of health. I conceived, designed, and oversaw the study and conducted the analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.