ULI has joined with 127 of the most influential U.S. mayors, along with the Trust for Public Land and the National Recreation and Park Association in launching a historic “10-minute walk” parks advocacy campaign, establishing the ambitious goal that all Americans should live within a 10-minute walk (or half-mile) of a high-quality park or green space.

This bipartisan group includes mayors from all across the country and represents cities large and small, including America’s four largest cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston) and diverse communities developing innovative parks solutions, from Oklahoma City to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which represents more than 1,000 U.S mayors, also unanimously passed a resolution at the 85th Annual Meeting urging all mayors to actively pursue the goal of a 10-minute walk to a park.

“I am proud we’re supporting the goal of a 10-minute walk to a quality park for all,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Connecting people to parks is a sure way to build happier, healthier communities and improve daily life for millions of Americans.”

Studies show that high-quality parks provide a wide range of benefits to urban residents and cities themselves. These include physical and mental health benefits, by providing opportunities to be physically active and to interact with nature; economic benefits, by boosting business and helping to revitalize neighborhoods; community-building benefits, by providing opportunities for neighbors to interact with each other and work together to improve their surroundings; and environmental benefits, by cleaning and cooling the air, improving climate resilience, and providing opportunities for environmental education.

(Hector Arguello Canals/Unsplash)

Partnering with Cities to Advance the 10-Minute Vision

The campaign marks the start of a multiyear partnership with cities and mayors across the country. Beginning in 2018, the campaign—led by the Trust for Public Land in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association and the Urban Land Institute—will be working with select cities across the United States on measurable policies and strategies to advance the 10-minute walk vision.

Reaching 100 percent served in cities nationwide will require major advances in park finance and construction; zoning changes to encourage park development; embedding this goal into master plans for city parks; the expansion of “joint use” agreements that open school playgrounds, tracks, and gyms for public use after hours and on weekends; and other innovations.

“Everyone deserves to have a park within a 10-minute walk,” said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development for the Trust for Public Land. “As our research shows, more than 100 million Americans currently don’t have access to the countless benefits parks provide. These mayors deserve enormous credit for endorsing the 10-minute walk and supporting the principle that parks are a right, not a privilege—and that everyone deserves access to high-quality public parks and open green spaces. I hope more mayors will sign on, and I encourage all citizens to urge their elected leaders to prioritize park access and quality.”

“On issues from climate change to infrastructure development, U.S. mayors have shown that cities can lead. Mayors aren’t waiting on Washington; they are acting boldly and independently. Urban leaders have declared that parks are a priority, and mayors have joined together in this historic campaign to ensure that everyone has access to a high-quality park,” said Barbara Tulipane, president and chief executive officer of the National Recreation and Park Association.

“Thoughtfully designed parks make a positive difference in the quality of life in communities, serving as a respite, a source of civic pride, and a draw for investment activity,” said Patrick L. Phillips, global chief executive officer for the Urban Land Institute. “We are excited to work with these distinguished mayors and other urban leaders to promote the 10-minute walk campaign and help improve park access in their cities as well as urban areas across the country.”

The full list of U.S. cities can be found at 10minutewalk.org.