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ParkScore: Washington, DC is #4

ParkScore badges_Instagram_2017_4 Washington DC

Washington, DC ranks number #4 out of the 100 largest US cities in the 2017 edition of ParkScore from The Trust for Public Land. (Neighboring Arlington, VA is #6).  Acreage, Access and Investment & Amenities are the three categories that determine a city’s ParkScore and here’s how Washington DC scored in each:

In terms of acreage, the median park size is 1.5 acres (compared to the national median of 5 acres) and the percentage of the city that is parkland is 22 percent (compared to the national median of 9.3 percent.)

In terms of access, 97 percent of the population is within a 10-minute walk to a park, as shown our map below.  Any areas in red, dark or light orange are areas where the population is outside a 10-minute walk.


10-minute walk map from ParkScore (click on image to go to live map)

In terms of investment and amenities, spending per resident is $270 (compared to the national median of $80 per resident) and scores for playgrounds, basketball hoops, dog parks and recreation and senior centers all score very well.

For complete information, including our ParkEvaluator tool, visit ParkScore.  If you have questions, please email us at ccpe@tpl.org.


ParkScore: Seattle and Chicago Tied for #11

ParkScore badges_Instagram_2017_11 Chicago

On Wednesday, May 24th, the Trust for Public Land rolled out the 2017 edition of ParkScore, the annual ranking of the parks systems of the 100 largest US cities. We’re highlighting results on this blog, but you can check out all of the details at parkscore.tpl.org.

This year, Seattle and Chicago tied for 11th place.  For both, it’s a move upwards in the ranks – in the case of Seattle, they were 13th in 2016 and in the case of Chicago, they were 15th.  Rankings are calculated using a formula that combines Acreage, Access and Investment and Amenities, which is explained in greater detail below.

ParkScore badges_Instagram_2017_11 Seattle

Acreage – includes median park size and parkland as percent of city area. (The median acreage for a park in the 100 largest US cities is 5.0 acres, Seattle has 2.4 acres and Chicago has 1.4 acres. The median percentage of parkland for the 100 largest US cities is 9.3 percent. Chicago has 10 percent and Seattle has 12 percent.)

Access – percent of residents within a 10 minute walk to a park.  (The median for the 100 largest US cities is 66 percent.  Chicago has 97 percent and Seattle has 94 percent.)

Spending – this is a 3 year average of the most recently completed fiscal years.  (The median is $80 per resident for the 100 largest US cities. Chicago is $173 per resident and Seattle is $279 per resident.)

Amenities – basketball hoops, dog parks, playgrounds, recreation & senior centers. We’ve landed on these four amenities because they are a) simple to count and quantify b) occur in all cities and park systems with little influence by region/geography etc. and c) most importantly, because they reflect the needs of a diverse population. Together these amenities serve very young children, active youths and adults, those with pets (who may or may not have children, plus dog parks are an increasingly popular and desired type of park or amenity), and a more elderly or less active population as well.

Press coverage on ParkScore for both cities includes:

For more information, visit each city’s parks & recreation websites: Chicago Park District and Seattle Parks and Recreation.

And if you have questions about ParkScore, please email us at ccpe@tpl.org.

ParkScore: St. Paul is #2

ParkScore badges_Instagram_2017_2 St. Paul

Repeating their number 2 position again in 2017 is St. Paul Parks & Recreation! Congratulations!  St. Paul has a park within a ten-minute walk of 96 percent of their citizens, with 15 percent of the city as parkland and a median park size of 3.7 acres.  You can check out all of the details here or check out their map here.

You can experience all that St. Paul has to offer in their award winning Parks department by attending the City Parks Alliance Greater & Greener International Urban Parks Conference July 29-August 2. Over 1,000 parks advocates, designers, programmers, planners and professionals will be there and it’s a great way to learn more about what our urban parks are doing.


Mears Park, downtown St. Paul

And check out The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore with the 2017 rankings of the 100 largest US city park systems. Questions? contact us at ccpe@tpl.org


Separated bikway nearing completion in downtown St. Paul.



ParkScore 2017 has arrived!


The Trust for Public Land is pleased to announce that the 2017 edition of ParkScore is live.  Visit and find out where all of the 100 largest US cities rank.  Minneapolis has once again come out on top, with St. Paul in 2nd place. [And you can can experience them in person through the City Park Alliance Greater & Greener Conference July 29-August 2.]

A big thanks to all of the Parks and Recreation agencies in the 100 largest cities. Assembling all of the data, especially the GIS information, is a big job and we couldn’t do it without each city’s help and support.  We truly appreciate it.

We’re also doing a big promotional push and we have a number of media reports published, this update is from Thursday evening, May 25.



WGN Radio – Adrian Benepe interview

Washington, D.C.:






Twin Cities:








New York:


WNYC – Interview with Adrian Benepe.



New Jersey:








San Francisco


Los Angeles:








San Diego:









Fort Wayne:





New Orleans:










Texas: (Austin and Dallas)




St. Louis:




Las Vegas:










Next City:


Why a 10-minute walk to a park?


With the announcement on Tuesday of San Francisco becoming the first US city to achieve a 10-minute walk to a park for all citizens, we thought we’d provide the background on how we arrived to the 10-minute walk standard.  This research is also available on our ParkScore website under the methodology section.

And we’ll be talking about this a lot more beginning next Wednesday, May 24th, when we unveil the 2017 edition of Parkscore.

Why a 10-minute walk to a park?

We have identified a half-mile, or 10-minute, walk to a park as a common national standard.

As cities vie to attract talented college graduates and sustain population growth, they are focusing attention on parks to increase livability and support a strong economy. Since parks must be convenient if they are to provide their benefits, many places have set goals for the maximum distance any resident should be from the nearest park. Although individual cities’ goals vary with population density, from a remarkable eighth of a mile in Chicago to two miles in Atlanta, our data supports a standard of no more than a half-mile as a reasonable distance to walk to a park.

Among the 100 largest cities in the U.S., 70 have explicit distance goals, with 43 (61 percent) using a half-mile standard. Of the remaining 27 cities, 12 have a standard of less than a half-mile (many using a quarter-mile), and 15 have a standard greater than a half-mile.

We identified several studies suggesting that most people are willing to walk half a mile to a park. The largest, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2012 National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior, surveyed almost 10,000 people about their general walking habits.[1] The average trip length was 1.3 miles—roughly equivalent to the round-trip walk to a park located a half-mile from home. Of the walking trips reported in that study, 61 percent were for exercise, recreation, or walking the dog, with the remainder of trips split between commuting and errands.

A study of the Bay Area transit system found that 80 percent of transit riders who walked to the station lived within a ten-minute walk, or approximately a half-mile.[2]

Walking preferences are variable, with people willing to walk further for greater amenities in commuting, and even further for recreation. A planning study for a Seattle suburb found that people would walk nearly double the distance to a commuter rail station (1,700 feet) as they would to a bus stop (1,000 feet).[3] Looking beyond commuting, a study from Austin, Texas found that “utilitarian and recreational walk activities have been found to have distinct structural characteristics…Walk distance and duration for commuting, shopping, and reaching transportation are shorter, and recreational walks for exercise, walking the dog, and socializing are longer (71).”[4]

Some lower density cities have longer goal distances to a park, on the theory that suburbanites are more likely to drive to a park. However, the same Austin, Texas, study suggests that spatial and environmental factors are more important than individual factors” in determining walk length and duration (71).[5] That study found that people in modern suburban neighborhoods walked twice as long with their dogs and one-and-a-half times as long for exercise as those in more traditional urban neighborhoods.

Converting these distance standards to time standards hinges on how fast different people walk. The National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior assumes an average walking speed of 0.53 miles in 10 minutes. The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices guidelines, which are calculated to ensure that slow walkers can safely cross streets, uses an average walking speed of 0.45 miles in 10 minutes.[6] By any of these estimates, a 10-minute walk is a half-mile or close to it.

[1] U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors (2012).
[2] California DOT, BART’s First Five Years; Transportation and Travel Impacts (DOT-P-30-79-8), (1979).
[3]The Snohomish County Transportation Authority, A Guide to Land Use and Public Transportation for Snohomish County, Washington (1989), http://ntl.bts.gov/DOCS/GL.html.
[4] Shriver, K., “Influence of Environmental Design on Pedestrian Travel Behavior in Four Austin Neighborhoods.” Transportation Research Record (1997), 64-75.
[5] Shriver, K., “Influence of Environmental Design on Pedestrian Travel Behavior in Four Austin Neighborhoods.” Transportation Research Record (1997), 64-75.
[6] LaPlante, J. and T. Kaiser, “A history of pedestrian signal walking speed assumptions,” 3rd Urban Street Symposium (Seattle, WA), (2007).