Are Your Residents Within a 10-Minute Walk to a Park?

At 10:10 a.m. on October 10, 134 of the nation’s most influential mayors joined The Trust for Public Land, National Recreation and Park Association, and Urban Land Institute in launching an historic “10-minute walk” parks advocacy campaign, establishing the ambitious goal that all Americans should live within a 10-minute walk (or a half-mile) of a high-quality park or green space.

This bipartisan group includes mayors from all across the country and represents cities large and small, including America’s four largest cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston) and diverse communities developing innovative parks solutions, from Oklahoma City to Chattanooga. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which represents more than 1,000 U.S. mayors, also unanimously passed a resolution at the 85th Annual Meeting urging all mayors to actively pursue the 10-minute walk to a park goal.

“I am proud we’re supporting the goal of a 10-minute walk to a quality park for all,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “New Orleans’ recreation department recently received national accreditation—proof that at our parks, and those all across America, people are connecting and building happier and healthier communities.”

[blog_subscription_form title=”Subscribe to CitiesSpeak” subscribe_text=”Get the essential news and tools for city leadership, delivered daily by email.” subscribe_button=”Submit”]

Studies show that high-quality parks provide a wide range of benefits to urban residents and cities themselves. These include physical and mental health benefits, by providing opportunities to be physically active and to interact with nature; economic benefits by boosting business and helping to revitalize neighborhoods; community-building benefits by providing opportunities for neighbors to interact with each other and work together to improve their surroundings; and environmental benefits by cleaning and cooling the air, improving climate resilience, and providing opportunities for environmental education.

Partnering with cities to advance the 10-minute walk vision

The campaign marks the start of a multi-year partnership with cities and mayors across the country. Beginning in 2018, the campaign—led by The Trust for Public Land in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, and Urban Land Institute—will be working with select cities across the country on measurable policies and strategies to advance the 10-minute walk vision.

“On issues from climate change to infrastructure development, U.S. mayors have shown that cities can lead. Mayors aren’t waiting on Washington; they are acting boldly and independently. Urban leaders have declared that parks are a priority, and mayors have joined together in this historic campaign to ensure that everyone has access to a high-quality park,” said Barbara Tulipane, president and chief executive officer of the National Recreation and Park Association.

Reaching 100 percent served in cities nationwide will require major advances in park finance and construction; zoning changes to encourage park development; embedding this goal into city and parks master plans; the expansion of “joint use” agreements that open school playgrounds, tracks, and gyms for public use after hours and on weekends; and other innovations.

“Through our Cities Connecting Children and Nature initiative, the National League of Cities is helping mayors expand residents’ access to and utilization of parks and green spaces,” said Clifford Johnson, executive director of NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute). “With a variety of tools at their disposal, city leaders can play a significant role in closing the ‘nature gap,’ particularly among low-income children and children of color. We urge all city leaders to join with the 134 mayors who took the 10-minute walk and make increasing residents’ access to parks a priority in their communities.”

The Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) initiative supports city leaders in closing the nature gap. CCCN strategies promote creation and enhancement of nature in parks and a complementary focus on programming and experiences that bring children and families to those spaces. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements regarding additional developments in the CCCN initiative.

About the Author: Andrew Moore is the Director of Youth and Young Adult Connections in NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education & Families. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewOMoore.