Minnesota’s Safe Routes to School program third best in nation

Published 8:00 pm Monday, June 25, 2018

Minnesota’s Safe Routes to School program ranks third best in the nation, according to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The state ranks just behind California and Washington, according to a press release.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership issued “Making Strides: 2018 State Report Cards on Support for Walking, Bicycling and Active Kids and Communities” to help state leaders and decision makers prioritize transportation investments, resources and policies that support walkable and bikeable communities.

In Minnesota, Safe Routes to School is a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Health’s Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, or SHIP, BikeMn and BlueCross BlueShield Minnesota.

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“Minnesota is committed to developing policies and taking actions to support healthy living,” said Dave Cowan, Safe Routes to School coordinator, in the release. “Building just a little physical activity into each day improves our overall health and well-being. Safe Routes to School programs make it safer and easier for students to walk and bicycle to school. This helps create conditions that encourage active and healthy communities.”

The state report cards were generated by evaluating every state across 27 indicators spanning four core topic areas: Complete streets and active transportation; safe routes to school and active transportation funding; active neighborhoods and school; and state physical activity planning.

Cowan said these four areas help states understand what they are doing well and what can be improved as they look to increase the number of youth and adults walking, bicycling and being physically active.

“Currently, 12.3 percent of Minnesota K-8 students walk or bike to school. Students who start walking or bicycling to school benefit from 47 more minutes of physical activity per week,” he said.

Minnesota scored 147 out of 200 points on its report card. Strengths included the adoption of complete streets policies and goals to lower walking and bicycling fatalities and increase walking and bicycling mode share, and having a state active transportation plan and funding for Safe Routes to School projects.

“We are proud to be ranked third, but there is still work to do,” Cowan said. “The report helps highlight our strengths and gives us a road map to improve while we continue to promote programs and policies that support walking where people live, learn, work and play.”

More than 300 schools in Minnesota have SRTS plans and hundreds of teachers have been trained in bicycle in pedestrian safety.

The states’ report cards can be viewed at https://www.saferoutespartnership.org/resources/2018-state-report-map, or visit the Safe Routes to School website.