Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Movement Sciences


Park, Recreation & Tourism Studies

Committee Director

Chris A. B. Zajchowski

Committee Member

Eddie Hill

Committee Member

Xihe Zhu


Poor air quality represents a significant health risk, especially when recreating outdoors in urban parks and trails. It is important for managers of urban parks and trail to understand how potential visitors’ perceptions of air quality and health risks and benefits may affect visitation. The goal of this study was to investigate temporal variance in air quality along the Elizabeth River Trail, an urban trail located in Norfolk, Virginia, as well as trail users’ perceptions of air quality and of health benefits in relation to trail use. The researcher rode a bicycle with a Dylos DC1700-PM mobile air quality monitor mounted to it along the 16.9-km (10mi) trail for 10 weeks to collect PM2.5 and PM10 data. The following spring, a visitor use survey was conducted with ERT users, measuring perceived health outcomes and perceived air quality, as well as other experiential factors. Two repeated-measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used to determine whether there were significant differences in average PM density at different times of day or days of the week. PM was higher (p < .001) between 11am-1pm and on weekends. Perceived air quality and health outcomes were regressed onto self-reported trail use. Perceived health outcomes, but not perceived or preferred air quality, significantly predicted trail use, p = .006. Results suggest that whereas motivation directly predicts recreational choices, experiential factors may do so only under specific circumstances, such as when air quality is very poor. Further research is merited to determine how experiential factors can best be integrated with other theories of motivation to understand recreational decision-making.


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