"Safe Routes to Parks" Pilot Program

The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department is proud to join the national Safe Routes to Parks pilot program, helping demonstrate how local park and recreation agencies across the country are using Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework to increase safe access to parks and improve health outcomes. Developed by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in collaboration with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, the framework provides evidence and practice-based guidance to help local park and recreation agencies implement policies and practices that create safe and equitable access to parks for all.

The pilot project developed by ACC Leisure Services will be used to explore improving the pedestrian connections between and around East Athens Community Center on McKinley Drive and Trail Creek Park on Trail Creek St.

Athens-Clarke County recently updated the Greenway Network Plan to increase transportation choices and provide access throughout the city for those who cannot or choose not to use automobiles as their primary transportation method. This area of town (East Athens) is in need of additional transportation routes. These two facilities are located within close proximity to each other and travel to and between them is a challenge because of the lack of pedestrian accessibility. The pilot project will involve developing a plan for safer pedestrian connections to the parks and will create passage for programs, summer camp participants, children, and families to travel safely to and from the two facilities, as well generally improving community connectivity.

ACC Leisure Services staff submitted a grant application and was chosen along with nine other cities nationwide to participate in the Safe Routes to Parks pilot program.

Safe Routes to Parks was developed to help park and recreation agencies break down the physical and social barriers that limit people’s access to parks. A variety of tools, including the Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework, are available to help agencies address these issues. The framework encourages the use of community engagement and partnerships when building safe routes to parks. Potential partners, in addition to park and recreation municipal leaders, include active transportation advocates; neighborhood groups; municipal planners; economic developers; municipal management and elected officials; schools; health departments; and law enforcement.

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