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Maps of jogging routes reveal cities’ rich and poor neighborhoods

Nathan Yau has created maps showing the most popular jogging routes in a number of major cities in the United States and a few in Europe. Paris is pictured above. The data are from fitness software for mobile phones.

These maps could be seen in a very positive light. They’re an inspiration to hit the pavement, a source of new ideas for where to run, a reason to travel with your shoes and your shorts in your suitcase. But Know More does not see them that way, because Know More spends a lot of time thinking about public policy and as a result sees evidence of social and economic injustice everywhere.

In many cases, the location of the routes corresponds well to wealthier neighborhoods in the cities Yau mapped. If you view the entire collection on his blog, you’ll see that there aren’t many runners using fitness software in London south of the Thames, on Boston’s South Side, or in southeast Washington, D.C. Manhattan, and especially downtown Manhattan, is dense with routes; Brooklyn less so.

These results are to be expected. People who can afford to do so tend to prefer living near parks and rivers, where runners also like to run, and the poor are less likely to be able to afford luxuries such as smart phones and fitness apps. Click below for more on the connection between poverty and obesity in the developed world, which has been thoroughly documented but remains poorly understood.

Max Ehrenfreund | February 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm
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