Over 90% had a great experience, good interactions with other users and felt safe! Marin County Parks Receive High Marks in Visitor Survey

MCP-use-report-coverA recent survey of visitors to local parks and open space preserves generated high marks for Marin County Parks, including a 97 percent approval on overall experiences. This is consistent with our observation that most people enjoy a safe and pleasurable experience in Open Space preserves, despite what sometimes appears in media reports. It shows that MCBC-supported trail education (Slow and Say Hello!) and pathway education (Share the Path) contributes to Parks’ high approval rating.

Take a look at these key results:

  • 97% of respondents agreed that the quality of their overall experience in that park unit on the survey day was good or very good.
  • 90% were satisfied or very satisfied with their interactions with other visitors.
  • 98% felt safe

Most visitors to the four County parks and 34 preserves – about 75 percent – are Marin locals, the researchers found. More than half of the people interviewed resided within one mile of the park facility where they were surveyed. Consistent with Marin’s demographics, the vast majority of visitors were white, educated and affluent, especially those using open space preserves.

The study, conducted in November 2015 by San Francisco State University, was undertaken to help the County improve visitor services and broadly understand who uses the facilities and in what ways. Surveyors collected 1,168 interviews and 157 more people filled out a follow-up online survey via email. The complete Marin County Parks Visitor Study Report can be viewed here, and there is also a Marin County Parks Use Study Fact Sheet which condenses the information.

The most common suggestions by survey responders were about improvements to trails and pathways, better facility maintenance, and better enforcement of rules, especially pertaining to dogs. But 98 percent of visitors said they felt safe at the County facilities, 90 percent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their interactions with other visitors, and 95 percent said they would revisit the same location where they were surveyed within the next year.

Additional focus groups with seniors and Latino residents were conducted to identify barriers keeping these groups away from Open Space. Participants cited limited public transportation to parks and open spaces, health issues and lack of signage in Spanish. Additionally, some seniors felt unsafe on trails because of hearing difficulties and said they would like trail loops with low to no grade.

This is valuable information as we work toward enhancements to the trail system for all users, including people on bikes.

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