Learn more about Safe Routes and how to make communities more walker/biker-friendly
Safe Routes Minnesota provides funding to community and school groups to make improvements to the routes your children use to walk and bike to school. Communities around schools suffer from traffic congestion and the stress that comes with it. Neighborhood environments suffer from toxins released by cars polluting the air we breath. Children are becoming less active and more overweight.
Safe Routes Minnesota takes a holistic approach to all these problems, creating a positive effect on neighborhood and school communities through a simple solution: helping children walk and bike to school via safe routes. When this happens, neighborhoods reap the benefits instantly – children, parents, neighbors, plants, animals and the air all become healthier and happier.
It's up to you – however you get involved with Safe Routes Minnesota, your actions with have a positive ripple effect.
A bridge was built so kids can safely cross over to the other side of the neighborhood.
Improvements may include physical infrastructure changes or non-infrastructure programs.
Your neighborhood association or neighborhood watch group might be a good place to find concerned parents like yourself and piggyback on the group's existing meeting schedule to spread the word.
If you can put Safe Routes to School concerns on their agenda, you'll be likely to find helpful allies who want to make the same changes you do. If there are no such groups in your neighborhood, start talking to other parents who share your interest in developing safe routes for your children – perhaps your combined skills, attitudes and talents will form a group of its own!
There's more than one way to create a group around Safe Routes to School:
Schools are in a prime position to apply for funds to implement comprehensive Safe Routes to School programs.
Inform you child's principal, PTA, or school board about the opportunities that Safe Routes Minnesota presents. Remind them that children who start their day actively generally have longer attention spans, more enthusiasm, and test higher on standardized tests.
If you're really passionate about your safe routes to school program and finding ways to rally the community to the cause, we can help you write letters to the editor of your local paper. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for letter ideas to educate neighbors, friends and community publications.
The primary reason kids don't walk or bike to school is that parents are too busy, it's faster to drive the kids or they're afraid for their kids' safety.
Here are some answers that you can give to other parents as you start Safe Routes to School in your area to help them see through their fears and busy schedules and understand the benefits of walking and biking to school.
Response: Actually, we're in the process of making changes that'll make it safer for kids to walk and bike to school safely. Saferoutes to School will make it easier and safer for kids to walk to school.
Response: What about a supervised walking school bus, where you take turns with other parents picking kids up and walking or biking with them to school? If you get enough parents involved, you'll only have to do it a few times. Or maybe you could drop your kids off a few blocks from school and let them walk from there. That'll take you less time than driving them all the way in.
Response: Experts say that kids 10 and older are okay to cross streets unsupervised. As long as your kids know the rules of the road, traffic really shouldn't be a concern that gets in the way of their health.
Response: To start out, you can walk the route with your child and make sure he knows people along the way. The neighbors along the route are (will be) aware that it is a safe route and are there to help. Also, if your child walks with a group of children or in a walking school bus, he or she will be safer from strangers. Most importantly, be sure your child knows not to talk to strangers and to run for help if he feels threatened. Strangers really shouldn't be a problem.
Response: You can drive your child halfway so she can get exercise by walking or biking the rest of the way. This way, you can help your child pick the best route to the school. It'll also help you save time because you're not driving all the way to school, and you'll avoid the headaches of all the parents trying to drop their kids off at the same time.
Response: Walking and biking regularly will help your kids stay healthy now and develop habits that'll ensure they live long, healthy lives. The more children who walk and bike to school, the less auto traffic and less gas used. The less traffic, the less air and noise pollution and decreased chances of respiratory problems in growing children. When children walk or bike, rather than ride in a car, neighborhoods reap the benefits instantly – children, parents, neighbors, plants, animals and the air all become healthier and happier.
One key factor in keeping kids safe as they walk and bike to school is teaching them the necessary safety skills. As a parent, you have the most influence on how your children behave on their way to school. Here are some safety guidelines every parent should know: