Examining fear-evoking factors in urban parks in Hong Kong

Bonnie K.L. MAK, Chi Yung JIM

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54 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding fear-evoking factors in urban parks is important for planning and management, but such research is lacking in many cities. This study examined three groups of fear-evoking factors, including inherent park characteristics (IPC), park design and management issues (PDMI), and visitor-related concerns (VC). Besides mainly environmental factors reported in the literature, new ones such as social and personal have been proposed to explore how they may evoke fear in park users. The relationships between the dependent (fear-evoking factors) and independent variables (park users’ socio-demographic and visit-related characteristics) were investigated. Primary data were gleaned by a questionnaire survey, encompassing 90 fear-related factors, 872 park users in eight study sites in Hong Kong. The results identified insufficient park gates as the most fearful factor among 18 IPC. The presence of critical substances such as unusual and undesirable wastes (e.g. syringes, condoms) evoked the most unsafe feelings among 21 PDMI. Of the 26 VC, the presence of critical park users, including drug addicts, drunken persons, suspected undesirable elements or thieves, and persons with suspected mental health problems induced key fear-evoking concerns. The presence of other non-critical park users generally lowered fearful feelings. Gender and self-rated general health status were the most influential socio-demographic factors. Overall, the fear-of-crime factors were subsumed under three groups, respectively affected mainly by PDMI, followed by VC and IPC. The findings provided cross-cultural insights and identified specific but rather eclectic factors to inform improvement of park safety by modifying planning and management inputs. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-56
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Early online date22 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


Mak, B. K. L., & Jim, C. Y. (2018). Examining fear-evoking factors in urban parks in Hong Kong. Landscape and Urban Planning, 171, 42-56. doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2017.11.012


  • Fear-evoking factor
  • Fear of crime
  • Perceived safety
  • Park disamenities
  • Urban park design
  • Urban park management


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