Across the United States, 100 million people don't have a park within a
10-minute walk of home.

The Trust for Public Land is leading a national campaign to ensure that every person in America has access to a quality park within a 10-minute walk of home. The 10-minute Walk analysis measures and analyzes current access to parks in cities, towns, and communities nationwide. Read more to find out how the analysis works.

The parks database

The Trust for Public Land built a comprehensive database of local parks in the nearly 14,000 cities, towns, and communities. We used census-defined urban areas to define where to collect and create local data for cities, towns and communities. For each city, town and community, geographic boundaries were obtained from the US Census 2010 Places geospatial dataset and associated population estimates are derived from Esri’s 2018 Demographic Forecasts. The team attempted to contact each city, town, and community with a request for their parks data. If no GIS data was provided, the team created GIS data for the place based on available resources, such as park information from municipal websites, GIS data available from counties and states, and satellite imagery.

Cities, towns, and communities were then emailed a link to view the park data compiled in their area to verify the boundaries and attributes of the parks in the database through our custom web-based ParkReviewer™ application.

The 10-minute walk

For each park, the team created a 10-minute walkable service area using a nationwide walkable road network dataset provided by Esri. The analysis identifies physical barriers such as highways, train tracks, and rivers without bridges and chooses routes without barriers.
 
Using these 10-minute walk service areas, overall access statistics were generated for each park, place, and urban area included in the database, and then further disaggregated by several demographic variables – race/ethnicity, age, and income. In communities with an exceptionally small number of block groups, 10-minute walk demographic calculations are not available.
 
All calculated population statistics are based on 2019 US Census Block Group estimates provided by Esri.

Park need 

All populated areas in a city that fall outside of a 10-minute walk service area are assigned a level of park need, based on a weighted calculation of three demographic variables from the 2019 Forecast Census Block Groups demographic data provided by Esri: 

  • Population density – weighted at 50% 
  • Density of children age 19 and younger – weighted at 25% 
  • Density of households with income less than 75% of the regional median household income – weighted at 25% 

To ensure a large enough sample size of demographic data for each analysis, park need weightings for smaller cities, towns and communities included data from nearby jurisdictions. 

Optimal locations for a new park 

For each city, town and community, we display up to 5 optimized locations where new parks could make a biggest impact on the 10-minute walk in that neighborhood. We create a 10-minute walk service area for all locations outside of a 10-minute walk of an existing park, and then each optimized location is ranked by the number of residents within a 10-minute walk that currently live outside of a 10-minute walk to a park. Cities and towns are provided up to 5 optimal locations, dependent on the amount of park need and the size of the community.

How can I use ParkServe® to learn about my city’s park system?

ParkServe can help you visualize your city’s park system and inform decisions by identifying areas most in need of a new park. You can access the ParkServe landing page at www.tpl.org/parkserve. Here, you can search for your city and view your city’s unique profile page. Listed on each city profile page you can find:

  • 10-minute walk park access statistics 
  • A demographic breakdown by age, race, and income of populations within a 10-minute walk of a park  
  • The proportion of city land used for parks and recreation 
  • The number of parks in your city
  • A link to the web map for your city

Please note: If you are not seeing 10-minute walk demographic breakdowns on a city’s profile page, it is either because the city you have chosen has no parks, or there is not enough demographic data available to us to provide reliable statistics.

Parkserve Table Example

How do we define a park?

In order to accurately represent park access across large communities, we choose to emphasize open public access as the key criterion for inclusion in our database. We include a wide variety of parks, trails, and open space so long as there is no barrier to entry for any portion of the population.

Examples of parks we include:

  • Publicly-owned local, state, and national parks, trails, and open space
  • School parks with a joint-use agreement with the local government. Considering the scale of the project, only the joint-use agreements collected through ParkScore® were used.
  • Privately-owned parks that are managed for full public use

Examples of parks we don't include:

  • Parks in gated communities
  • Private golf courses

 

What tools exist to aid in park planning?

The ParkServe mapping application is a great way to pinpoint specific areas in need of publicly accessible greenspace. To explore the map you can click on “See [city]’s Map.” You will be redirected to the mapping application where you can view:

  • The location of all parks and greenspaces within the city
  • The parts of the community located within a 10-minute walk service area of those parks
  • Areas of park need that are currently underserved, ranked by level of need**
  • “Optimized points” that tell you where in your community a park would have the biggest impact on the 10-minute walk. (These are ranked based on the estimated increase of residents served).

In addition to viewing this data in the city profile page and web map, you can also export a 2-page PDF that provides map of the entire community, as well as the 10-minute walk access statistics for the area of interest broken down by age, income, and race. You will find this option as you scroll below your city’s map to view the city-level report.

Parkserve Map Example

Lastly, the ParkServe mapping application provides a tool called ParkEvaluator™ to assist in city planning. This tool allows users to draw new parks and/or trails within a selected city and run an analysis to view how these parks affect the city’s park access statistics. This is a great resource for planning and visualizing how the addition of new parks might impact your community. For detailed instructions on how to use the tool, see this document:
https://parkserve.tpl.org/mapping/pdfs/ParkEvaluator_Instructions.pdf

How can I add missing parks or submit edits to the data?

If while looking through your cities' Parkserve data page and city map that there is data missing such as a new park, we want to know! In the mapping application, you will see a white box with blue highlights in the bottom left hand corner that reads “Are we missing a park? Tell us!”

Parkserve Button Example

By clicking on this you will be given two options: To leave a general comment or question for us to answer, or to edit your city’s park data. If you choose to edit your city’s park data, you will be directed to a mapping application, the ParkReviewer. Here you can submit edits to us directly, and after a review by our team, they will be published to the ParkServe platform. Details on using the ParkReviewer can be found in the help menu in the upper right corner of the ParkReviewer application.

For a detailed walkthrough of the ParkServe website, please watch these videos: