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Assessing urban recreational open spaces for the elderly: A case of three Indian cities

Subramanian, Divya, Jana, Arnab
Urban forestry & urban greening 2018 v.35 pp. 115-128
cities, elderly, multivariate analysis, open space, people, India
Many studies have highlighted the numerous benefits of access to inclusive public open spaces globally, focusing on various age groups. However, there exists a knowledge gap in understanding the needs of elderly users of urban Indian recreational open spaces that impact their usage behaviour, specifically regarding design and amenities provision. This study assesses the perceived accessibility and usability of an open space as an effect of its design features and tests it for the quality and availability of the age-specific amenities provided. A study of 51 recreational open spaces across three Indian cities of Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai was undertaken to evaluate their performance and age appropriateness, using multivariate analysis methods for derived empirical evidences. The findings indicate a considerable deficit in basic entry convenience and movement in public open spaces for people with movement difficulties and the shortfall of age-specific amenities. The outcome of the study highlighted the high positive impact of amenities provision and universal design features of a recreational open space on the perceived ‘Attractiveness’ of the open space, causing greater usage by the elderly. Backed with supporting empirical evidences, incorporation of universal design with barrier-free concepts while designing and developing recreational open spaces is strongly recommended for the Indian context.