Walking Initiatives

As a vital community resource, parks and recreation are central to the walking movement and have an opportunity to significantly impact public health and the environment. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Walking and Walkable Communities calls on park and recreation professionals to:

  1. Design safe walkable communities
  2. Promote programs and policies to support walking
  3. Provide information to encourage walking

The following resources can help you learn more, promote walking and create walkable communities.


Safe Routes to Parks Guide

Park Access ReportSafe Routes to Parks is the national effort to promote safe and equitable access to parks for all people. The NRPA Safe Routes to Parks guide provides professionals with well-researched tools to ensure parks are accessible to all users. 

Video: Get Out and Walk

Community parks are one of the best places to walk offering access to safe routes for physical activity as well as the added benefits of being in nature and the outdoors while you exercise. This animated video provides all the reasons why a walk in a local park is a great way to combat the obesity epidemic. Watch the video and then use it in your community to encourage more people to walk in their local parks. Tips for using the video are below.


How to use the video: 

  • Embed on your website. Grab the embed code from YouTube here.
  • Post the video to your YouTube channel.
  • Share the video on social media using hashtag #WalkInAPark and #SafeRoutestoParks. Tips and sample social media posts are available here.
  • Use the video on your city or community television channels. You can also work with your local television broadcast stations to air the video as a PSA.

Resources for Park and Recreation Professionals


There are infographics you can use to inform your community about walking in parks. Click on the image for more information.

Safe Routes to Parks Thumbnail



Health and Fitness

You can provide your community with the programs and information needed to get them walking every day. This assortment of tools can help get you started!

CDC Parks, Trails and Health: Resources from the CDC on the benefits of parks and health and tools to incorporate parks into healthy community design. 

Messaging Tool Kit: Focus group tested messaging guide designed by the Everybody Walk! Collaborative. Watch this webinar to get started.

Community Walking Program Guide: Step-by-step guide to developing an evidenced based community walking program. Developed by the CDC and Partnership for Prevention.

Walk with Ease: An evidence based arthritis walking program designed by The Arthritis Foundation. The NRPA has developed an Ingredients for Success resource for park and recreation agencies to implement the program.

How I Walk: A visual campaign with tools to promote walking as an inclusive physical activity. There are various ways to walk, and now is the time to rebrand the word walking so that everybody is included in walking initiatives.

Design and Maintenance

Architects, landscape architects and engineers shape and create the community walking environment. These resources will help ensure that designs are walker-friendly and that maintenance practices uphold the walkability of the plans. 

Active Design Guidelines for architects and urban designers. Created by the Center for Active Design.

Complete Streets Resources: From the basics to design and implementation. Compiled by the National Complete Streets Coalition and Smart Growth America. 

Trail Enhancements Toolkit: This toolkit developed by Rails to Trails includes all the basics for land acquisition, design, and maintenance of trails.


Planners are able to directly influence the policies and plans that support walkable communities. These documents will help you work with them to set priorities, define areas of need and create policies and plans that support walking. 

American Planning Association's (APA) Community Health Center: Tools and resources to incorporate health into planning decisions including APA's Safe Routes to Parks fact sheet

Evaluation Tools: A list of resources compiled by Smart Growth America. Includes tools to evaluate and measure performance and health impacts of multi-modal transportation projects. 

Walk Audit Resources: Guidelines and tools for conducting a walk audit to identify areas of need in your community. Compiled by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Watch this video to learn more. 

Benchmark Report: Nation, state and city specific data about frequency of walking behaviors. Compiled by the Alliance for Biking and Walking.

Funding and Partnerships

Funding, resources and partnerships often stand in the way of creating a more walkable community. Leveraging partnerships and applying for funding are an essential part of this process. 

Important organizations in your community 

Shared Use Agreements: These resources from Change Lab Solutions will help you work with partners to increase equitable access to parks in your community.

Making the Economic Case for Complete Streets: a guide compiled by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition. 

Success Stories

San José Shuts Downs Streets and Opts for Play at Viva CalleSJ_150San Jose Shuts Down Streets and Opts for Play at Inaugural Viva CalleSJ
By Kari Davisson
January 2016
Summary: Viva CalleSJ is an innovative and free program that temporarily closes miles of San José streets to bring communities together to walk, bike, skate, play, and explore the city like never before. Six miles of city streets were closed to cars and opened up to the community for activity. Participants choose to be active starting anywhere they liked along the 6 mile stretch and keeping the flow moving just like regular traffic. Official estimates by the City of San José were that more than 35,000 people of all ages and abilities filled the streets to walk, bike, skate, and play.

For more information contact Rachel Banner 703.858.2159.