13—Increase the percentage of New Yorkers living within walking distance of a park to 85%.
In 2019, 81.5% of New Yorkers were within walking distance to a park.
The city is on track to meet its goal through various initiatives:
Walk to a Park increases access to parks and open spaces for residents who are not within walking distance of a park.
Parks Without Borders helps make parks more welcoming and connected to surrounding neighborhoods, with a focus on upgrading the entrances and outskirts of city parks.
Community Parks Initiative funds capital projects to create and upgrade parks, especially in neighborhoods that face higher levels of poverty.
Parks and other greenspaces are some of the city’s most valuable environmental assets. Preserving these spaces and increasing access to them for all New Yorkers is a top priority for NYLCV. Many of the city’s trees are located in parks, where they help mitigate climate change by storing 1 million tons of carbon each year and playing a vital role in countering urban heat island effect, lowering temperatures by up to nine degrees, which helps cut air conditioning use by 30%. Trees also help provide clean air by removing 1,300 tons of pollutants from the atmosphere and protect our waterways by capturing almost 2 billion gallons of stormwater each year.
Lastly, now more than ever, access to parks and open spaces, especially for residents of a dense metropolitan area like NYC, are important for mental health, including reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Use of local green space has also been associated with other physical health benefits like improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The city originally used the In-Season Commuter Cycling Index for this indicator, but has since stopped using it. However, according to the NYC Department of Transportation, cycling increased 55% between 2012 and 2017.
In April 2020, the city temporarily suspended organics collection due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the suspension, while some neighborhoods had the option to enroll in curbside collection, the programs did not serve all New Yorkers.