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Study: Many Houstonians Still Lack Easy Access To Parks

The study looked at the percentage of residents that can walk to a park in 10 minutes or less.

Despite Houston’s acres of parks, only about 58% of Houstonians can easily get to one on foot, according to the Trust for Public Land’s annual ParkScore.

The report rates cities on the percentage of residents who live within a 10-minute walk from a park.

For comparison, in Minneapolis 96% of residents can walk to a park in 10 minutes.

The Trust for Public Land’s Charlie McCabe says though Houston has about 40,000 acres of parks, some neighborhoods still lack public green space.

“It’s mostly in southwest Houston,” said McCabe. “And then further out east and north you have also some gaps as well.”

And even in a car-centered city like Houston, McCabe said people are more likely to use local parks if they don’t have to drive to get there.

“We find that the barriers to visiting a park and getting moderate to vigorous exercise decrease if you don’t have to get in a car, you don’t have to get on a bus, you don’t have to catch a ride with a friend or family members,” said McCabe. “You can actually put the kids in a stroller, put them on bikes and roll over to parks.”

Houston ranks low on the ParkScore index, coming in at #85. Last year the city ranked at #77, but McCabe praised Houston’s efforts to create more parks, like the extensive Bayou Greenways project. He said there’s strong private support for park projects, but it will take more public money to increase access.

“I think the big thing is to continue to get everyone more engaged in advocating for the park system,” McCabe said.

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Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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