Parks are vital community institutions that provide spaces for physical activity, community engagement, and time in the outdoors. Research has found that individuals living with in a 10-minute walk to a park have lower rates of obesity and higher rates of physical activity, decreasing the risk of chronic disease and increasing mental health and general well-being. Yet communities most at need with the highest levels of health disparities have the least safe access to local public parks.
That’s why NRPA is creating a campaign around Safe Routes to Parks to implement environmental and policy strategies that create safe and equitable access to parks for all people.
If you are interested in partnering with NRPA to help communities across the country achieve the vision of Safe Routes to Parks, please contact Rachel Banner.
Safe Routes to Parks Guide
The NRPA Safe Routes to Parks guide provides professionals with well-researched tools to ensure parks are accessible to all users. To better understand this initiative, please download the guide.
How to Achieve Safe Routes to Parks
Evaluate Park Access
Conduct assessments to identify gaps in park access and to determine if your parks are actually within a 10-minute walk. These resources will help you get started:
Address Park Safety
How safely and easily can residents get to and from your parks? These resources will help you learn how to better build, improve, and maintain public infrastructure such as sidewalks, crossings, and trails to create safe walking routes to parks:
- 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.
Assess Park Amenities
By enhancing park programming, amenities and community engagement, you can increase perceived safety and attract more local residents to your parks. Here are some tools to help you:
- Messaging Tool Kit: Focus group tested messaging guide designed by the Everybody Walk! Collaborative. Watch this webinar to get started.
- Get Out and Walk Video: Share this animated video with your community to easily explain all of the great benefits that come from walking in a local park.
- Community Walking Program Guide: Step-by-step guide to developing an evidenced based community walking program. Developed by the CDC and Partnership for Prevention
Seek Out Park Funding
Leveraging partnerships and applying for funding are an essential part of taking action on Safe Routes to Parks. These resources will help you get started:
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.
NRPA's Safe Routes to Parks Vision
NRPA envisions a nation where every person has safe and equitable access to parks in their community. To achieve this vision, NRPA is spreading awareness about the importance of Safe Routes to Parks and provides members and partners with professional development opportunities, technical assistance, and promotional materials. To measure and support additional efforts, NRPA is in the process of building and a Safe Routes to Parks evaluation framework and are looking to support local communities with additional technical assistance, training, and financial support to help make Safe Routes to Parks a priority in every community.
If you are interested in supporting NRPA’s Safe Routes to Parks campaign please contact Rachel Banner.