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.



About Safe Routes to Parks

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.

Safe Routes to Parks Resources

These fact sheets, toolkits, infographics, and videos can help your community create safer, more accessible parks in communities across the country.


Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework and Resource Guide
Guide from the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) and Safe Routes Partnership provides strategies and resources to support the development and implementation of plans that improve safe, equitable, convenient access to local parks and green spaces.

Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework Training
Recorded training that provides in-depth instruction on each stage of the framework and examples from pilot sites across the country that worked on Safe Routes to Parks.

Four Tips to Advance Safe Routes to Parks
In fall 2023, four communities in Pennsylvania wrapped up participation in our Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program. We asked if they could impart practical advice to any community interested in advancing Safe Routes to Parks. Here are some of the key takeaways and lessons learned from their projects.

Sample Safe Routes to Parks Plans
View action plans from past Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program grantees.

  1. Blue Zones Project Hawaii (Honolulu, HI)
  2. United Neighborhood Association of South Wenatchee (Wenatchee, WA)

Safe Routes to School Meets Safe Routes to Parks
Factsheet overviewing alignment between Safe Routes to Parks and Safe Routes to School efforts.

Aligning Safe Routes to Parks with Safe Routes to School
This fact sheet outlines how Safe Routes to School and Safe Routes to Parks programming and advocacy can align to achieve shared goals and accomplish even more than each could do separately.

Safe Routes to Parks Infographic
Infographic highlighting the process of creating Safe Routes to Parks

Connecting People to Parks: A Toolkit to Increase Safe and Equitable Access to Local Parks and Green Spaces

This toolkit includes step-by-step guidance through the Safe Routes to Parks framework to increase safe and equitable access to parks and green spaces.

Why Safe Routes to Parks: Stories, Data, and Resources to Illustrate the Mission
This visual storyboard helps explain the Safe Routes to Parks program, and invites you to join us in advocating for equitable parks in your community and everywhere.


Equity in Safe Routes to Parks
Series of fact sheets with strategies to advance equity in every stage of the Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework.

Incorporating Equity into Safe Routes to Parks Training
Recorded in-depth instruction on how to incorporate equity into Safe Routes to Parks efforts and develop organizational capacity to address equity.

Taking Steps Toward Mobility Justice: An Invitation to Learn More and Take Action


A Checklist for Facilitating Community Engagement During Safe Routes to Parks Visioning Activities
Fact sheet to help organizations host a thoughtfully facilitated, engaging community visioning activity around Safe Routes to Parks efforts.

Protecting Black Lives in Parks and Public Spaces
As advocates for safe routes and safe public spaces, we must take a holistic view of safety, especially the safety of Black lives. This blog posts explores non-police strategies to improve safety in parks, streets, and public spaces.


Harnessing Data to Advance Safe Routes to Parks
This fact sheet provides ideas for ways to access and collect data as well as ways to effectively share the information to improve safe, equitable access to parks and green space.

Safe Routes to Parks Walk Audit Toolkit
Toolkit outlines steps to conduct a walk audit that will help improve safe access to parks for people walking and biking.

Health Impact Assessments: A Tool to Focus on Health Assessments of Public Park Access
Factsheet explains what Health Impact Assessments are and how they can support park access.

Safe Routes to Parks Evaluation Guide: Steps and Tips to Assess and Inform Efforts to Improve Park Access

What Gets Measured Gets Managed: A Step-by-Step Guide to Evaluating Safe Routes Projects from Beginning to End 


Standalone Policies to Support Safe Routes to Parks
Factsheet presents potential standalone policies that can demonstrate a clear commitment to Safe Routes to Parks.

Safe Routes to Parks in Complete Streets Policies
Incorporating Safe Routes to Parks priorities into Complete Streets policies can help shape daily operations and funding decisions, drastically increasing the likelihood of sustainable funding and consistent implementation. 

Safety for Safe Routes in Parks - Part 1 & Safety for Safe Routes in Parks - Part 2

In these two recordings, Safe Growth founder, Greg Saville discusses the basics of a Safe Growth  approach to community safety and analysis for park safety and crime prevention. Participants from the 2021 Safe Routes to Parks cohort discuss the concepts and concrete ways that they apply to assessing safety for their Safe Routes to Parks work.

Power Mapping 101 Fact Sheet
A Community Power Map is a visual tool to help you identify individuals, organizations, or institutions that may influence the outcome of the positive changes to increase park access in your community. This resource was created to guide you in developing your own community power map to build connections and improve park access.


Ideas for Implementing Safe Routes to Parks Improvements

People Powered Improvements: How Advocates Can Support the Implementation of Safe Routes to Parks

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

Prioritize and Partner Up to Pay for Safe Routes to Parks Infrastructure

Actionable Public Health Strategies to Boost Community Well-Being with Safe Routes to Parks

Celebrating Walking, Rolling, and Safe Routes to Parks on International Walk to School Day: Ideas for Integrating Safe Routes to Parks into Walk to School Day Events

Financing Safe Routes to Parks

State-Level Funding


Keep Up the Momentum: Sustaining Safe Routes to Parks Efforts

Safe Routes to Parks Success Stories

Parks + Connections, An Opportunity for Stronger Engagement in Tuscon

Innovative Library and Parks Department Partnership Demonstrates Safer Connections for People and Parks Via Highway Bridge

Bringing Flashing Stop Signs and a Community Park Celebration to Wenatchee, Washington

Community-Led Art Installation Encourages Safer Streets Near Old Stadium Park and Serves as a Model for Oahu

Residents 'Lead the Change' and Ignite Collaborative Efforts to Increase Park Safety in Houston

Sustaining Success: Former Crime Magnet is Transformed into a Community Recreational and Green Space

Grassroots Community Residents Lead the Change for a Safer and More Accessible Park in Planada, CA

Making Complete Streets a Reality in Birmingham, AL

Podcast - Park Access Starts with Safety: Two Safe Routes to Parks Efforts in Illinois



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Watch: 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.

cully video

Watch: Living Cully Walks worked with community residents and artists to create a wayfinding network that helps people get to Cully Park, built on a former landfill in the Cully neighborhood of Portland.