Our research group conducted field studies in The Yards Park at the end of March and beginning of April 2017. Data collection involved a count of park users, behavioral mapping, and surveying park users.
Count of Park Users
An observational count of park users was completed to understand the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the individuals that utilize the park’s features. Counts of park users will undoubtedly find the number of users, but also information such as the gender, ethnicity, or activity of the park user. The count will assist in determining if the overall park’s design appeals, engages or restricts any one type of user (does The Yards Park represent all genders, ethnicities, activities that are found in other parks). On March 26th, members of our research group completed at count of park users on a chilly and cloudy spring day. Each member studied a different area of the park in order to accurately record all possible users. Our study locations were near the boardwalk trail to the park, along the Water St. entrance, and by the park gardens. We counted park users for approximately one hour before rejoining together to compare findings.
A behavioral map was drawn to observe and track the behavior of park users to determine how they use the designed spaces of the park. Behavioral mapping allows our study to directly observe park users with very limited or no influence which would affect the results of the study. On April 9th, a member of our research group conducted and recorded a behavioral map of the park from 11:30am – 12:30pm on a warm sunny day. The use of the park ultimately was broken down into six categories. This included those walking(themselves or a dog), riding a bike, running, spending the day with family, and sitting back and relaxing. We did not include the restaurants in our mapping or the walking trail. The restaurants crossed over into private use and our surveys would tell us which users had come for the cuisine. Also, we felt as those the activities recorded on the bridge heading towards the trail would show an accurate portrayal of trail activity.
In order to document the actions observed in the field each action was given a code. An example of this being how dog walkers were represented as “DG”. Where as in the final map this coding was updated to colors in order to make it more aesthetically appealing. Now dog walkers are represented as a pink dot and can be seen clustered in the Dog Park and open grass area. Each dot on the map represents a count for the hour meaning we had observed approximately 130 park users for the hour. The count is an approximation because dogs, small children, and pairs/groupings were counted as one unit. The map and a detailed key can be found on the Data page.
A survey was utilized as a research method for collecting information from park users. The survey aids in identifying park users’ characteristics, activities, and preferences of the park. Surveys can determine if the completed design of the park meets the needs of its users or if the design may require changes or improvements to properly engage its users. On April 9th, members of our research group surveyed park users from 11:30am – 12:30pm. One member stayed along the boardwalk trail and two members walked throughout the park to interview park users. While conducting the survey, answers were recorded on paper while surveying the users and later entered into Google Forms for easier analysis. The survey consisted of seven questions; three were completed by one of the research members and four questions were completed by the park user. The questions included both open and closed-ended questions which were the following: Gender, Race, Refuses to Answer Survey, Why did you come to the park today?, How did you get here? How did you travel to the park?, How often do you come to this park?, and In what way would you improve this park?. There were a total of 92 users surveyed with 67 completing the survey and 25 refusing to answer.