- The Trust for Public Land named Washington, DC as the city with the nation’s best parks system in a new ranking. The nation’s capital was followed by St. Paul, MN and Minneapolis, which had led the nation in the last three ParkScore rankings.
- The group found that 72% of residents in the 100 largest U.S. cities have a park within a 10-minute walk from their home, up from 70% last year. TPL found that San Francisco and Boston, ranked 7th and 13th respectively, were the only cities where 100% of residents are 10 minutes from a park.
- The ParkScore rankings reflect park access, park acreage, city spending and amenities, like basketball hoops and restrooms. The District rose in the rankings compared to last year thanks to investments in park amenities, the group said.
Studies have linked access to green space and parks to better rates of mortality, heart rate, physical activity and mood, according to a literature review published last year in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. That’s why TPL prioritizes easy access to parks within cities in its ParkScore rankings.
Although access to parks is rising, 11.2 million people in the largest cities are still more than a 10-minute walk away. According to TPL, it would take just 1,500 new parks built in effective locations to give access to 5 million more people, and it would take 8,300 new parks to make every urban resident live within 10 minutes of one. More than 250 mayors have joined TPL’s 10-Minute Walk Mayor’s Campaign, which seeks long-term strategies to improve park access and spending.
TPL acknowledged that some cities and states — including Colorado and California — have stepped up public funding, but said there could be a role for the federal government to include park equity as part of a potential infrastructure bill. "Civic leaders, elected officials, experts, and activists are coming together behind the power of parks to benefit health, climate, and communities," Diane Regas, TPL's president and CEO, said in a statement.