Tuesday, June 6, 2017
New York City: GIS Measures and Field Observation
This article maps out certain criteria that effect the lives of residents of New York, New York. The disparity the article focuses on is chronic disease related to lack of physical activity in poor neighborhoods of New York and non poor neighborhoods.
It is true that the low-income neighborhoods of New York would be predisposed to physical activity because of their walkability, a phrase which here refers to intersecting factors such as land-use mix, and high population density). Yet, these opportunities for physical activity are not utilized because they are complicated by further economic disparities such as high crime rates, and lack of aesthetic appeal. It is difficult to decide if the the authors' conclusion would best be described as oblivious or hackneyed: that in order for low-income residents to utilize the walkability their neighborhoods , the architecture must be made more aesthetically pleasing, and crime must be reduced. Upon a cursory reading of this article, the authors' methods may seem straightforward and logical. When looked at on a more macro scale, however, reading the article becomes uncomfortable. That lack of physical activity despite walkability was the central issue seemed simple enough. Yet, the factors leading to lack of physical activity were not plugged into the greater socio-economic contect. To phrasing of the article makes the lack of physical activity in low-income neighborhoods of New York appears to prioritize physical activity, or lack-there-of, over the factors which caused it. Crime rates in low-income neighborhoods are often high, in part due to racial-biases embedded in law enforcement. I have often found that the aesthetics of high-income neighborhoods are often high quality due to scenarios such as: a corrupt city council members take donations from wealthy residents, and therefore delegate more of the city's funds to fixing the roads of wealthy streets, or creating historical markers.
In summation, the authors' attempt at mapping out a way to benefit impoverished New Yorkers was not successful. I do not know that such an attempt could be successful without treating racism and classicism with proportionate gravity.
Neckerman, K. M., Lovasi, G. S., Davies, S., Purciel, M., Quinn, J., Feder, E., ... & Rundle, A. (2009). Disparities in urban neighborhood conditions: evidence from GIS measures and field observation in New York City. Journal of Public Health Policy, 30(1), S264-S285.