(Im)Mobility and Health Disparities: Assessing the Accessibility of Nutrition and Physical Activity Options in an Urban Neighborhood

Scholars have demonstrated that minorities, especially African Americans, "are significantly less likely than whites to have access to cars, and these differences are greater for the less educated" (Stoll, 2004; Raphael & Stoll, 2001; Holzer, et al, 1994). They have also shown that while public transit is an important source of transportation for millions of Americans, it remains inefficient and inflexible. Giuliano (2001) argues, along with other scholars, that the answer is either to promote private car ownership or to encourage "economic development policies to increase the supply of jobs, goods and services in low income neighborhoods." However, as Handy and Clifton have written (2001), researchers have relatively little information on individual activities at a neighborhood scale. Most descriptions of shopping and services are taken from large national surveys that offer limited information on the complicated ways that individuals use their neighborhood resources or from a few local studies that often count resources as a method of evaluating accessibility. This study is an effort to fill that gap at a neighborhood level and increase our understanding of the relationship of transportations modes to retail goods and services around nutrition and physical activity. The key question is where do people access goods and services, and what obstacles do the physical environment, the resource environment, and transportation limitations place in the way of their succeeding in finding and utilizing quality healthy items? By getting individual data at a neighborhood scale about travel, shopping and exercise, tying that to previous work done on the location and quality of food markets, restaurants, and physical activity facilities, and analyzing both in comparison to regional and national travel data around activities, this project will be able to better describe the role transportation plays in inhibiting or promoting healthy lifestyles.