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Introduction

Welcome to the Minnesota Safe Routes to School Resource Center!

Minnesota Safe Routes to School is an effort to improve walking and bicycling conditions for our youth and encourage more active lifestyles. The Minnesota Department of Transportation along with many other partners across the state are working together to help schools and communities develop Safe Routes to School programs.

The purpose of the resource center is to provide SRTS tools, resources and information needed for all partners – including parents, teachers, students, schools, school districts, communities, and others. The Resource Center contains information about the Minnesota Safe Routes to School program, resources and tools for planning a SRTS program, information about the “5 E’s” of SRTS, current programs in Minnesota, and other news and events related to Minnesota Safe Routes to School.

Photo of children walking to school.

About SRTS

To increase opportunities for children to walk and bicycle to school safely, the 2005 federal transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, provided funding for Safe Routes to School in all 50 states. The federal legislature created SRTS, in part, to help reverse the alarming nationwide increase in childhood obesity and inactivity. The program has been successful nationwide in delivering numerous benefits to local communities including reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and helping kids arrive to school focused and ready to learn.

Minnesota has a healthy and growing SRTS movement. Since 2005, when the first federal funds were allocated to SRTS initiatives in Minnesota, SRTS initiatives across the state have made a profound impact on the ability of students to choose walking or bicycling as a viable mode of transportation to school. In the early days of the program, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota's Center for Prevention began to support SRTS by creating the monthly SRTS Network call and by providing technical assistance to schools and communities.

Since 2012, MnDOT has worked to develop statewide programs to support SRTS school programs across the state. In 2012, MnDOT contracted with the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota and BCBS MN Center for Prevention to develop the Walk! Bike! Fun! bicycle and pedestrian safety curriculum and provide technical assistance to schools. Work on this resource center and strategic plan began in 2014.

Nearly 500 schools have been awarded funding through MnDOT planning, infrastructure or non-infrastructure grants. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Health supports local public health agencies and their partners throughout the state in initiating and implementing SRTS work. Much of this support is a result of the Statewide Health Improvement Program, which funds work to increase access to physical activity opportunities. Currently, half of grantees are working to advance SRTS efforts in their schools or communities, reaching over 225 schools throughout the state, potentially reaching over 110,000 students in two years. As a result of MnDOT and MDH efforts and funding opportunities, many schools and school districts throughout Minnesota are participating in SRTS initiatives on some level. There are countless champions such as parents, teachers, school administrators, local public health staff, community members, state and local advocates, and public safety officials who are making the SRTS movement a reality at the ground level.