Safe Routes to School: MN program rates 3rd in nation

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 Washing- ton.

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 mak- ers prioritize transportation in- vestments, 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 De- partment of Health’s Statewide Health Improvement Partner- ship, BikeMn, and BlueCross BlueShield Minnesota.

“Minnesota is committed to developing policies and taking actions to support healthy liv- ing,” said Dave Cowan, Safe Routes to School coordinator. “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 eas- ier for students to walk and bi- cycle to school. This helps

create conditions that encour- age active and healthy commu- nities.”

The state report cards were generated by evaluating every state across 27 indicators span- ning four core topic areas: Complete Streets and Active Transportation; Safe Routes to School and Active Transporta- tion Funding; Active Neighbor- hoods 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, increase walking and bicycling mode share, and having a state active transportation plan and funding for Safe Routes to School proj- ects.

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