Part Two: COVID-19 survey shows many have significant concerns with outdoor recreation

COVID-19 has impacted our daily lives in ways we never expected. The Neighborhood Design Center, as a nonprofit focused on improving the quality of life for residents of Central Ohio and empowering communities, undertook this survey to gain a deeper understanding of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s relationship to and perceptions of the built and natural environment, in the context of human interaction.

The survey report also illustrates the width of various walkways in the Short North area, highlighting where social distancing can be difficult. See page 19 for more detail.

The goal of the survey was to assess the impact of the stay-at-home order on a variety of outdoor activities, such as using sidewalks, multi-use paths, and visiting public space like parks and regional trails. Survey questions asked about changes in how respondents navigate public space and about their stress levels when encountering others in public places.

Survey results are intended to help inform policymakers, practitioners, and interested stakeholders about the impact of COVID-19 on the behavior of Central Ohio residents in outdoor public spaces. Ultimately, the way public space is designed will likely need to adapt based on the realities of public health. We are hopeful these survey results can help leaders make more informed decisions moving forward.

Survey distribution and limitations

The COVID-19 Outdoor Public Space survey was designed to gauge how residents of Central Ohio have changed their behaviors to adapt to the risks presented by the global pandemic on outdoor activity. The target audience for the survey was adults living in Central Ohio.

The survey was distributed passively, meaning individuals were not specifically contacted. The primary distribution methods of the online survey link were through the Neighborhood Design Center’s email list and social media—Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The survey was designed using Google Forms, and was only available online between May 1 and May 10. No paper, phone, or in-person surveys were conducted. Google Forms is a free survey administration application that is included in the Google Drive office suite.

The survey was answered by 355 individuals. Demographic results show that survey respondents were more likely to be white and live in higher-income zip codes, which illustrates that survey responses are not from an equitably distributed demographic pool. As with all passive surveys, people who have an interest in the topic area may be more likely to engage. This could indicate that the individuals attracted to taking this survey harbored strong feelings about COVID-19’s impact on outdoor public space.

Download the survey report to see detailed results.

The 24-page report contains the results of each survey question, demographic information of respondents, and an evaluation of opportunities to address the concerns raised by respondents. The appendix contains recommendations for public space during COVID-19 from the National Association of City Transportation Officials, as well as a feature on the NYC Sidewalk Width mapping project and the full text of the survey.

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