Encourage kids to walk or bike to and from school because it’s fun!
Safe walking and biking routes don't just build healthy children...they build healthy communities. When neighbors are out walking and biking, the neighborhood comes to life. People get to know one another. There's less air and noise pollution from car traffic. All in all, it's a good thing!
Safe Routes Minnesota is a program of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Helping kids develop healthy habits now also helps kids remain active and healthy as adults. And that means a healthier community, lower health care costs, and a brighter future for all of us.
We offer funding to schools and municipal units to identify, build, and preserve safer routes so kids can walk and bike to school. Community and nonprofit groups work with local government to request funds to make improvements in their communities.
The first thing you need to know about building a Safe Routes to School program is that Safe Routes Minnesota is here to help. We provide funding to schools to make improvements to the routes children use to walk and bike to school. These improvements may include physical infrastructure changes or non-infrastructure programs.
Community groups are not eligible to apply for funds on their own. But you can work with appropriate governmental agencies to apply for funds. In your community, that might be the department of roads, the city planning office, the local school board, or even the mayor. You may also want to involve principals or teachers at local schools. Start an inquiry to find out how your town handles opportunities like this. For more information on developing strategic partnerships, see the Community Partnership Handbook in our Marketing Toolkit.
Learn the requirements for funding. Once you know if your school and your initial project ideas qualify, you're ready to move forward.
Discuss with your key players any problems that may be creating barriers to walking and biking in the area. You'll want to address all these things as you build your program. Be sure to remember that the focus is to create safe routes to local schools. Your community will benefit from these changes as well.
Now that your committee has determined why your area is so walker/biker-unfriendly, it's time to develop strategies to address each issue. You're likely to find more than one reason children and adults aren't walking or biking. Make sure your plan addresses all the issues. All fund recipients must have a comprehensive plan for building, promoting and maintaining Safe Routes to School.
The governmental unit you're working with will use this plan as the basis for your funding application. Consult the application guidelines and begin moving through the funding process.
Once you've been approved for funds, the committee you organized will start implementing your plan. This will include developing a plan of action for both infrastructure and non-infrastructure components of the project. It's likely that the governmental unit you've been working with will take things over from here.