Background: Equitable access to sports services has drawn attention from policymakers and planners in China as people’s health has been placed at the centre of the country’s policy-making machinery. However, existing approaches to measure the spatial accessibility of sports facilities tend to ignore the heterogeneity in potential users’ demands and facility preferences, thereby causing a bias in the measurement of accessibility.
Methods: To accurately measure the spatial accessibility of sports facilities, this paper proposes a multi-preference Gaussian two-step floating catchment area (MG2SFCA) method, taking into account different travel modes, catchment sizes, and facility preferences among different age groups. Empirically, using high-resolution gridded data on actual population distribution, we adopted the MG2SFCA method in examining the spatial accessibility of sports facilities among children, working-age population, and elderly population under walking, cycling, and driving modes in Dongguan, China. Further, a comparison was made between the accessibility results measured by the MG2SFCA method and the Gaussian 2SFCA method.
Results: The results indicated a significant spatial disparity in the accessibility to sports facilities, with better accessibility in the north and poorer accessibility in the south. Children have the best access to sports facilities, followed by working-age and elderly populations. In the comparison among different transport modes, the accessibility distribution of sports facilities in walking mode showed the greatest spatial variation, while accessibility in driving mode was the most balanced. The spatial variation of accessibility scores of MG2SFCA was more significant than that of Gaussian 2SFCA.
Conclusions: The MG2SFCA method is superior to the traditional Gaussian 2SFCA method because the former can capture disadvantaged people’s actual needs for sports facilities more accurately than the latter. Introducing demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of individuals into spatial accessibility measurement has a vital impact on the accurate reflection of accessibility inequality.