What's happening in Minnesota? Our four pilot program communities have launched exciting efforts to promote Safe Routes to School in their areas. Check back for more updates as the programs develop.
The City of Cottonwood in conjunction with Cottonwood’s Lakeview School (Pre K - 12) constructed a pedestrian/bike path through the Safe Routes to School Program in 2009. Before the construction of the path, only about 5% of Lakeview Students walked or biked to school. Today 11% of students use the path at least one per week and an additional 13% using the path at least once per month to walk or bike to school and for other recreational purposes.
This number is pretty exceptional since many of the students at Lakeview come from outside of Cottonwood and are unable to use the path when walking or biking to school. Students are not the only people to take advantage of the path. In the evening, large numbers of individuals and families can be seen using the path for recreational jogging, walking or biking purposes.
One school, $10K, 16 ways to make a difference
Anyone who has ever dropped their kid off at school knows the traffic safety issues created by excessive lines of cars all doing the same thing: transporting kids to school. Red Pine Elementary School in Eagan decided to do something about it.
It’s not amazing that the school applied for and got a $10,000 grant, along with the City of Eagan, from the Safe Routes to School Program. What’s amazing is what they accomplished with the money. The school’s goal was simple—to reduce traffic and increase the physical fitness of its students. It went after this goal with a barrage of strategies including:
- Building an interactive “Safe Routes” map on the school website
- Participating in National Walk/Bike to School Day\
- Holding a Bike for Every Student event
- Designing yard signs to encourage walking/biking along with safe driving
- Establishing alternate drop off sites
- Organizing walking school buses
- Installing more bike racks
- Participating in the Annual 3 City Walk/Bike events
- Creating a Health and Wellness Committee with staff and parents
- Testifying for Complete Streets legislation
- Holding a Community Health Fair
- Organizing ACES (All Children Exercise Simultaneously) events during state testing season
- Creating after school fitness classes
- Developing a summer activity punch card for families
- Organizing Recess Fitness Clubs
The results speak for themselves. The Red Pine Elementary School doubled the number students walking and biking to school, and it cut the number of car pool vehicles by half.
Contact: Gary Anger (Gary.Anger@district196.org), 2008
Nellie Stone Johnson and Lucy Laney Elementary Schools have organized a strong community efforts in North Minneapolis, working with community groups, Minneapolis Public Schools and volunteers to promote the program. On October 8th, 2008 (International Bike and Walk to School Day) the schools will organize an all-students walk or bike to school day. Volunteers, teachers and many special guests from all over Minneapolis will be present to help safely escort kids to school. Each school will also hold an assembly that will include special guest speakers, bike raffles and prizes for students.
Contact: Julie Danzl (email@example.com or call 612-668-5451)
New Brighton has been busy working on a project to put a paved trail through Hanson Park which will provide a convenient and safe route for students of Bel Air Elementary. The school looks forward to celebrating the grand opening of the trail this spring and will kick-off its SRTS program officially with an event coinciding with the trail opening.
Contact: Jason West (firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-638-2122), 2008
The cities of Bovey-Coleraine held a Bike Safety Rodeo this fall which was extremely popular with children and parents. They partnered with the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission and were able to give away free helmets to students. They have organized "Walking Wednesdays" for students and parents to join up and either bike or walk to school every Wednesday, which has been a great success. The sidewalks have been crowded with kids and the bike racks have been full!
Hibbing continues to organize its efforts in promoting its SRTS program and is preparing for an event in the spring where Lincoln Elementary students and parents will be involved in an organized celebration for biking and walking to school. Hibbing has been excited about the grant it recently received from MnDOT and looks forward to continuing to build its program.