A spatial and social analysis of green space access : a mixed-methods approach for analysing variations in access perceptions
thesisposted on 04.03.2014, 16:36 authored by Fariba Sotoudehnia
Much research has considered facility access in terms of geographic location (physical distance) and how access varies for different groups. Perceptions of facilities are known to affect access behaviours but little research has considered how access perceptions interact with access behaviours and location. This PhD thesis addresses this gap and combined qualitative and quantitative analyses in a mixed-methods approach that included GIS-based network analyses, capturing access perceptions through questionnaires, and access behaviours through participatory mapping and in-depth interviews, in relation to green spaces in Leicester, UK. In this process, a large integrated dataset was generated combing questionnaire responses (n=452), access routes captured via participatory mapping (n=245) and in-depth interviews about access perceptions (n=14). The outcomes and methods of this research augment standard distance-based on measures of access by combining these with analyses of green space access perceptions and behaviours: a multi-dimensional approach. Adopting a mixed-methods approach supported a multi-dimensional concept and analysis of accessibility. The questionnaire data highlighted the variations between different social groups, access perceptions and behaviours. Analysis of GIS-based network analysis together with the results of the participatory mappings showed that 31% of the participants travel to green spaces rather than using their local facilities and that the route respondents took to their preferred green space were not the shortest path as determined by a GIS-based network analysis. The in-depth interviews, capturing respondent perceptions of access, highlighted the importance of other access-related factors that influenced their perceptions of access and access behaviours. The key message of arising from this research is that measuring accessibility using only spatial analysis provides a narrow definition of access in terms of distance/travel time. Rather, access should be considered as a broad and multi-dimensional concept that requires holistic investigation within which perceptions of access and access behaviours are also included.