Austin’s Park System: How Does It Compare?

Zilker Park
photo courtesy of LoneStarMike, Creative Commons

Austin’s park system ranks 46th amongst the 100 largest US cities. That’s according to the latest ParkScore rankings, which were just released by the Trust For Public Land last week.

The biggest reason we weren’t ranked higher? A lack of equitable park access.

Each year, the Trust for Public Lands puts together these ParkScore rankings based on three factors:

  • Park Access – the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park
  • Park Size – looks at a city’s median park size, as well as the percentage of city land dedicated to parks
  • Facilities and Investment – looks at park spending per resident, as well as the availability of popular amenities (like basketball courts, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, recreation and senior centers)

Austin’s average park size of 8.5 acres is well above the national average of 5 acres, as well as its number of dog parks. Austin has 1.4 dog parks per 100,000 residents, compared to the national average of 0.9. However, on park access, Austin doesn’t perform nearly as well. Only 54 percent of Austinites live within a 10 minute walk of a park, compared to the national average of 66 percent.

ParkScore Index

So how did other cities do?
Despite its lack luster rating, Austin did score higher than almost any other city in Texas (only Plano did better). However, it performed far worse than cities we often compare ourselves to (like Portland, which ranked 5th on the ParkScore Index). Minneapolis took first place, followed by its neighbor Saint Paul. You can look through the entire ParkScore list (as well as dive deeper into the data) here>>

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