In many cities, disparities exist not only in the ability to move, but also in access to parks and open spaces that promote outdoor activities. Michael Jerrett, professor and director of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, has found large disparities between low-income communities and more affluent areas, both in the quantity and quality of park spaces. In Los Angeles, surveys consistently show that personal safety concerns are a major barrier to biking. The Southern California Association of Governments is consulting with Jerrett's group to integrate their research into ongoing transportation planning.\The 1904 zoning code of the City of Los Angeles made it possible for industrial sites to be installed in low-income neighborhoods, thus restricting low-income households and families of color to living in the central neighborhoods of Los Angeles (now known as South Los Angeles) which lacked patios or green spaces.
More than half of the population of Los Angeles County lives in communities that urgently need parks and park improvements.\The Small Area Life Expectancy Estimation Project developed a model that quantified the relationship between life expectancy and the amount of tree canopy cover, living green vegetation, and accessible park space in the census districts of Los Angeles County. By controlling for other variables that could affect life expectancy, such as smoking, obesity and physical inactivity, the team analyzed all of Los Angeles County and made a series of predictions. Improving tree cover and access to parks and green space in Los Angeles County, particularly in low-income communities of color, could significantly increase the life expectancy of local residents.\In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department has appointed an ADA coordinator to ensure compliance with the non-discriminatory provisions of the ADA. Funds are allocated to issues related to park security and access, the development of green spaces and greenways, the development of urban canopies, and the renovation or expansion of existing parks and park services in Los Angeles County.
The UCLA Fielding School is working with community partners and legislators in Los Angeles to ensure that decisions about everything from buildings and green spaces to public transportation, bike paths and urban landscapes are made with their public health implications in mind.\CiclaVia events have the potential to provide longer-lasting health benefits. The researchers found that more than half of the participants surveyed would have been at home or would be sedentary if they hadn't attended the event. Initial evidence also suggests that the more events a participant attended, the less likely they were to arrive by car. Student who helped boost CicLAvia's research effort found that when CicLaVia's temporary public space is located in low-income communities with few parks, a substantial number of participants attend for the first time from the local area.\Los Angeles County is committed to providing accessible recreation for people with disabilities.
She is currently an undergraduate student at UCLA and continues to advocate for park equity and space justice for her home community as a member of the Prevention Institute's Powering Healthy Lives through Parks Community Advisory Board and as an NHF Health Equity Fellow.