Safe Routes to Parks

Walking or bicycling to a community park provides double the opportunity for physical activity – on the way to the park and within it! We’re working to improve the safety and security of active travel to parks through an effort called Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities. The Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program provides in-depth technical assistance and grant funding to ten communities working to improve safe, secure park access for people of all ages and abilities in low-income communities and communities of color. The Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program builds on the Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework and Safe Routes to Parks Pilot Site program, developed in collaboration with the National Recreation and Parks Association.


Why Safe Routes to Parks?

Too often, communities that have experienced historical disinvestment, high levels of traffic incidences, crime and public safety challenges, and high rates of weight-related chronic disease have the least safe access to local public parks. Over the long term, with increased safety and accessibility, Safe Routes to Parks seeks to increase park usage and improve health for people of all ages, races, abilities, and income levels.


What are Safe Routes to Parks?

Safe Routes to Parks are approximately ten-minute walks or bike rides to parks that are:

  • Accessible via multiple modes of transportation for people of all ages and abilities
  • Conveniently located within approximately one half mile (10 minute walk) from where people live
  • Safe from traffic and personal danger
  • Comfortable and appealing places to walk or bicycle
  • End at parks that are well-maintained and programmed

Who needs Safe Routes to Parks?

We all do! But Safe Routes to Parks are of particular concern in communities lacking infrastructure to support safe walking and bicycling and where violence and crime and high rates of weight-related chronic disease are prevalent. Safe Routes to Parks are important for kids, who are not old enough to drive themselves to parks, seniors, who may not wish to drive, and for people without cars, who rely on walking or bicycling to get around.

Learn more about this work

Equity in Safe Routes to Parks (series of five fact sheets)

Putting the "Safe" in Safe Routes to Parks: Improving Personal Safety from Crime and Violence to Promote Park Access

Safe Routes to Parks Walk Audit Toolkit

Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework: WebinarResource Guide

Incorporating Equity Into Safe Routes to Parks Webinar

Safe Routes to School Meets Safe Routes to Parks Fact Sheet

Safe Routes to Parks: Improving Access to Parks through Walkability Report

youtube video shot

Watch a video about how Safe Routes to Parks grantee Zyp BikeShare conducted a tactical urbanism event to build support for better bike connections to a local park in Birmingham, AL.

Who are the grantees?

Castillo Park

Can Do Houston | Houston, TX

Castillo Park Area Access by Bike and Ped
The goal is to improve pedestrian access through infrastructure investments at Castillo Park and surrounding areas. Resident advocates from CAN DO Houston's Community Leadership and Advocacy Training will work with neighbors and lead collaborative efforts to identify priority routes, conduct and analyze walkability and safety assessments, and make recommendations to the City of Houston through the mayor's Complete Communities Initiative. CAN DO Houston’s work to improve access to opportunities for health, through community-driven efforts, aims to advance physical and mental well-being through improved access to resources and a sense of safety.


Capital Roots | Troy, NY

Safe Routes to 7th Ave Park
The goal is to formally identify and enhance 7th Ave Park and 112th Street Park as neighborhood resources for residents to use and enjoy. While these parks currently have no existing identification, signage, or welcoming features, they hold plenty of 
potential to develop into community hubs. Capital Roots is excited to work to improve the design of these parks and enhance local networks, ensuring all Trojans know these spaces are theirs for recreation and enjoyment.

 Houlihan Park 

Cultiva La Salud under United Way of Merced County | Merced, CA

Safe Planada Park
The goal is to increase park safety by building a strong relationship with law enforcement, schools, county parks and recreation, and community residents to reduce crime in and around the community park. Cultiva La Salud is also working to create a path to park improvement project through the Born Learning Trails project where kids and families follow the path from school to the park with a beautiful interactive and playful community engagement tool, designed to help parents, caregivers, and communities support early learning. Ultimately, to increase the number of visitors involved in positive activities and link them to additional recreational programs that are culturally appropriate to encourage greater use and create a safer park environment. 



Environmental Health Coalition | National City, CA

Community-driven Planning for Park Access
The goal is to connect three parks in the underserved community of National City through safe, multimodal routes. Environmental Health Coalition will provide the support and technical assistance for residents to design connections and improvements that reflect their needs and priorities towards increased active transportation, active living, and healthy food access.


Health by Design | Indianapolis, IN

Safe Access to Indy Parks
The goal is to provide safe, accessible, and vibrant connections to the Indianapolis Parks system. This will include a prioritization of areas surrounding neighborhood parks that need infrastructure 
by: synthesizing existing plans, engagement of the partner coalition, assessments of parks near high crash zones (including walk audits and data analysis), and the creation of a Safe Routes to Parks Action Plan.


REV Birmingham | Birmingham, AL

Fast Track to Healthy Lifestyles
The goal is to utilize community input and daring problem solving to conduct assessments of perceived barriers to park access and partner with the local planning commission and local bike advocacy groups to identify and map lower-stress routes that connect the historic neighborhoods of Titusville & Smithfield via bike trails. In addition, REV Birmingham Zyp Bikeshare will produce and distribute marketing materials to raise awareness of safe, convenient ways to access the city's historic parks, and install bike infrastructure to support physical activity with safe access to parks and trails.


Safe & Sound Hillsborough | Tampa, FL

Safe Routes Planning for Kings Forest Recreation Center
The goal is to work with the Hillsborough County Violence Prevention Collaborative to assess and develop an action plan that addresses the needs of residents to determine safe access and better use of the recreation center and park. Ultimately, improving the physical health of residents, increasing social interaction, and decreasing violence. 

 Harvard Park 

Urban Peace Institute | Los Angeles, CA

Community Safety Partnership Harvard Park
The goal is to increase community 
usage of the park by addressing gang violence concens, reducing traffic, and making improvements to the built environment along the route to the park. In addition, continue to work with the Community Safety Partnership to focus on relationship-based policing for law enforcement officers who will be stationed to reduce violence and improve community relations.

 Cully Park 

Verde | Portland, OR

Living Cully Walks
The goal is to work in partnership with the Living Cully Coalition - a partnership among Verde, Native American Youth and Family Center, Hacienda Community Development Corporation, and Habitat for Humanity to install a wayfinding system to incorporate maps, signs, and community art that resonates with and is designed by the people of color and low-income communities located in the neighborhood; implement an active transportation curriculum to encourage safe walking and biking to local parks; and determine next steps for transportation infrastructure improvements that connect people to local parks and green spaces and advocate for them.


Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation | Youngstown, OH

Healthy Kids; Healthy Parks
The goal is to work with the City Parks Department to focus on six of the city’s most heavily used parks, which are sites that attract 
many youth for the Summer Day Camps. These parks exist in neighborhoods with high rates of crime, deteriorated infrastructure, and housing abandonment. Therefore, ensuring youth have safe walking routes to and from these parks is a primary focus of the initative.