Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Safe Routes to School

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Updated October 16, 2017

photo of students at walk to school day eventWalk to School Day photo contest

Thank you everyone for your efforts to make Minnesota’s Walk to School Day a success! We had well over 200 schools register (and even more participating) from around the state and many of you took photos and posted to social media for the Minnesota Safe Routes to School Walk to School Day Photo Contest. Check out everyone’s photos here.

There's still time to submit your photos to our contest and post your photos to the MnSRTS Facebook page with the hashtag #mnwalks by Oct. 11. Winners will be notified via social media.

Finally, take a moment to register your participating school for the Walk to School Day event. Registering after the event ensures you get counted in our statewide efforts and will add you to our ongoing WTSD specific communications.

New resource: Online crossing guard training

The Minnesota Safe Routes to School program is pleased to offer an online training for adult school crossing guards in Minnesota. Some Minnesota crossing guards do not currently receive any training on crossing guard procedures, common causes of crashes, or Minnesota state law.

This training is not intended to replace existing crossing guard training programs, but it is hoped that it will help provide a standard minimum amount of training for adult crossing guards throughout the state.

Learn more:

Fall Walk! Bike! Fun! trainings are open to registrants

Are you working with a school or community hoping to learn the ins and outs of teaching bicycle and pedestrian education? BikeMN offers a fun, active, hands-on and free training to prepare educators for implementing the Walk! Bike! Fun! Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety curriculum to enhance any Safe Routes to School plan. This exciting curriculum is designed for physical education, health teachers, other educators and community partners to use to engage kids in a thoughtful, playful and interactive program learning safety tips and skills for walking and biking.

Learn more and register:

Dowling principal builds his own bike rack

photo of principal sitting next to the bike rack he built

Safe Routes to School often requires a certain level of creativity and energy, but this principal takes the cake. Dowling Urban Environmental Elementary School’s bike racks overflowed with bikes during last spring’s Walk & Bike to school event. This prompted the school’s principal, Dr. Lloyd Winfield, to weld a new rack over the summer out of metal repurposed from a recent playground remodel.

Do you have stories like this one? Please share!

Want to put more students on bikes? Volunteer with Free Bikes 4 Kidz

There are a lot of ways to encourage more bicycling in your community. If you are in the Twin Cities Metro and want to help put over 5,000 kids on bikes, consider volunteering with Free Bikes 4 Kidz. Shifts are open from Oct. 9 - Dec. 1. No experience is necessary. Great for groups and individuals. Sign up here.

Walk to School Day is Oct. 4 - register today!
photo of students from Jordan Public Schools walking
Minnesota’s annual Walk to School Day is coming soon. Register today and MnDOT will send marketing posters, educational bookmarks and stickers (on a first come, first serve basis) to hand out the day of the big event.
It’s time to start planning event details at your school! The National Center for Safe Routes to School developed this helpful guide to get you started with planning a Walk to School Day event, including steps for planning, event ideas, safety tips and more. Starting a walking school bus (PDF) is another way to get involved with Walk to School Day and benefit the students in your community or neighborhood. Don’t forget to register your Walk to School Day event to ensure it is added to the ‘Who’s Walking Map’.
We would love to see what Walk to School Day looks like at your school! We’ll be holding our second annual Walk to School Day photo contest. Submit your photos the day of on the Minnesota Safe Routes to School Facebook page with the hashtag #mnwalks and you will be entered to win prizes for your school.

SRTS infrastructure solicitation is coming. Is your community ready?

During our most recent legislative session, the Minnesota legislature allocated one million dollars toward Safe Routes to School infrastructure projects. The guidelines and application are currently being developed for a solicitation that will open this fall. Make sure your community is ready by reviewing the new eligibility language (PDF) that was amended to the state SRTS program in 2015 under Minnesota Statute 174.40. The new language requires communities to adopt subdivision regulations that require SRTS infrastructure in developments authorized on or after June 1, 2016.
You can review our FAQ on the topic here (PDF).

MnDOT launches new online crossing guard training tool

photo of crossing guard holding up stop sign
Walking on and crossing high traffic roads consistently rates as one of the top three barriers that parents say prevent them from allowing their child to walk or bike to school. Having a volunteer or paid crossing guard to help students cross the street is a quick and easy solution to this issue – if you can train them.
Many schools, both rural and urban, lack the internal resources to train and manage crossing guards. In an effort to make training more widely available across the state, Minnesota Safe Routes to School and MnDOT created an online crossing guard training*. Made up of seven learning modules, schools can use the online training to provide a standard minimum amount of guidance to volunteer or paid crossing guards wishing to better understand how Minnesota laws impact their work.
Explore the new, online and interactive crossing guard training.
*A special thank you to the Minneapolis Safe Routes to School program for helping the development team pull together volunteers, locations for video and general enthusiasm for the project!

Walk! Bike! Fun! teacher training deadline extended

If your school or community would like to be trained in the Walk!Bike!Fun! youth pedestrian and bicycle safety curricula, we have extended the deadline to apply to host a training this fall. The deadline has been extended to midnight on Aug. 18, 2017. Please complete the application found here

MnDOT Awards Safe Routes to School Grants

planner working with youth

We're happy to announce the grant recipients of Safe Routes to School planning assistance! Here's a snippet from our news release that went out today:

The Minnesota Department of Transportation today announced the recipients of $250,000 in grants for Safe Routes to School planning assistance.

Safe Routes to School is an international program to increase physical activity, improve health and reduce traffic congestion around schools by making it safer and easier for students to walk and bicycle to school. Planning assistance grants provide communities the resources to convene a team, prioritize strategies and identify solutions.

Regional partners were selected from across Minnesota to administer grants in their region. 

“Hundreds of schools across the state are now supporting the Safe Routes to School program and increasing opportunities for children to walk and bike to school,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “More students walking and biking means less traffic on the road and near schools, improving safety and promoting healthier kids.”

MnDOT announced the available planning assistance grants in November 2016. The agency received applications from more than 100 schools and awarded 15 grants to 38 schools.

The Safe Routes to School grants in this solicitation are funded with state and federal Safe Routes to School dollars. 

Since 2005, MnDOT awarded nearly $20 million in federal funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding was awarded for infrastructure projects. The remainder was allocated for programs and planning that promote walkable and bikeable communities. 

The list of grant recipients is below.

Safe Routes to School 2017 Planning Assistance Awards: 

  • Saint Paul Public Schools 
  • City of Holdingford
  • Northrop Urban Environmental Learning – Minneapolis Public Schools
  • Zumbrota-Mazeppa Schools
  • Howard Lake/Waverly/Winstad Public Schools
  • Whittier International IB School - Minneapolis Public Schools
  • Region Five Development Commission: Grey Eagle School District/City of Long Prairie
  • Region Nine Development Commission: Sleepy Eye School District
  • East Central Regional Development Commission: Cambridge Isanti Schools
  • Southwest Regional Development Commission: Fulda Public Schools  
  • Arrowhead Regional Development Commission: McGregor School and Congdon Elementary (Plan Update)
  • West Central Initiative: City of Hawley
  • Mid-Minnesota Regional Development Commission: Cedar Mountain School District and Eden Valley Watkins School District 

Bike to School Day is coming May 10, are you ready?

This May 10th, thousands of students, families, community partners and elected officials will celebrate Bike to School Day, a national event, that encourages bicycling (or walking) to school. Students reap the health, community and academic benefits of a little bit of exercise before school, while having fun riding bicycles with their peers.

Minnesota Safe Routes to School (MNSRTS) is supporting Bike to School Day efforts by providing event toolkits (as available) to those that register their event early at www.walkbiketoschool.org.

Learn more about Minnesota's Bike to School Day here.

Second annual Bike to School Day poster contest kicks off!

Pedaling a bicycle can create some of childhood’s happiest moments. This year for Bike to School Day, Minnesota Safe Routes to School is holding our second annual Bike to School Day Poster Contest. Sponsored by the Minnesota Safe Routes to School, Quality Bicycle Products and Dero, the Poster Contest asks participants to design an 8.5 x 11 poster (Download the Poster Contest Guidelines) that shows how they feel when they ride a bicycle.

Find out more about the poster contest here.

MnDOT offers schools, communities Safe Routes to School funding

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota communities and schools wanting to develop safer routes for students to walk and bicycle to school can apply for planning assistance grants through the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program. Application deadline is March 3.

“Planning assistance grants are the first step for communities to assess their current conditions for walking and bicycling to school and decide what they need to effectively implement a Safe Routes to School program,” said Dave Cowan, SRTS coordinator. “After a plan is developed, schools and communities use this blueprint to apply for funds to advance infrastructure such as sidewalks, crosswalks and signage, and non-infrastructure solutions  such as educational programming, events and enforcement.”

The planning process works to engage stakeholders, analyze existing data and set a prioritized list of strategies to make it safer and easier for youth to walk and bicycle to school.

Plans are completed by regional development organizations or a statewide SRTS consultant.
Cowan said nationally, walking and bicycling to school is on the decline, decreasing from 48 percent of students in 1969 to 13 percent in 2009.

“Safe Routes to School planning can help communities design strategies to get students to walk and bicycle to school again,” he said.

Since 2006, MnDOT has worked with communities around the state to fund nearly 300 schools’ plans to develop and advance safe routes to school.

For more information, go to http://www.dot.state.mn.us/saferoutes/planning-grants.html

Minnesota's Winter Walk and Bike to School Day

This is Minnesota, the land of snowmobiling, ice fishing, hockey, cross-country skiing and fat biking – why wouldn’t we throw a Walk and Bike to School Day party in the middle of the winter? The 10th anniversary of Winter Walk Day is February 1, 2017 and this year Minnesota is in for the celebration.  Find out more here.

Snap Walk to School Day Photos and Win a Gift Card

This year Minnesota Safe Routes to School is sponsoring a Walk to School Day Photo Contest. On Wednesday, October 5th, take pictures of your students walking or bicycling to school and post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #mnwalks. The photos that receive the most likes by October 14th will win $25 gift cards! Learn more here.

Walk to School Day is Here! Register your School and get Support.

On Wednesday, Oct 5, hundreds of schools and thousands of Minnesota students, parents and community members will walk and bicycle to school in celebration of Walk to School Day. Walk to School Day provides students and families the opportunity to reconnect with the simple joys of walking to school while reaping the benefits of increased physical activity, reduced traffic congestion, and arriving at school ready to learn. Getting involved can be as simple as making an announcement to over the school intercom or as involved as coordinating a neighborhood walk with your elected officials, parents, teachers, and community members. Either approach is fun and educational for students, parents and community members alike. Read more here.

MnDOT Awards Bike Fleets for Walk!Bike!Fun! Implementation

More than 16,000 Minnesota youth will benefit from the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School grants that support pedestrian and bicycle safety education in schools. Bicycle fleets, trailers and supplies were awarded to the Northwest Regional Development Commission in Warren, St. Cloud Area Public School District and Willmar Community Education and Recreation. Awardees estimate the three fleets will be used in 42 schools, scout groups, 4-H clubs, parks and recreation and after school programs. Read more about the awards.

Bike to School Day Poster Contest

The Bike to School Day poster contest asked participants to design an 8.5 x 11 poster that shows how they feel when they ride a bicycle. See the contest winners.

SRTS strategic plan

Check out the SRTS strategic plan (PDF), developed by MnDOT and a diverse group of stakeholders from agencies and organizations around the state. Participants included representatives from Minnesota State departments of health, transportation, and education; city and county government; regional development commissions; public safety; traffic safety; schools and school districts; non-profits; and health organizations. Working through four interactive workshops and a series of online surveys between November 2014 and February 2015, the strategic planning participants developed a vision and value statements for the state SRTS program, and 5-year goals, strategies, and action steps. The plan includes approaches to public outreach, marketing, and education for SRTS initiatives throughout the state of Minnesota, as well as strategies for developing and implementing SRTS plans and programs.

New eligibility requirement for infrastructure grants with state funds

In 2015, new eligibility language (PDF, 90 KB) was amended to the state SRTS program under Minnesota Statutes 174.40. To receive funding for SRTS infrastructure projects, communities will need to adopt subdivision regulations that require SRTS infrastructure in developments authorized on or after June 1, 2016.