October 3, 2011
Governor Mark Dayton declares October Safe Routes to School Month
Thousands of school kids expected to walk or bike to school
Governor Mark Dayton has declared October Safe Routes to School Month to highlight the benefits of walking and bicycling to school. Across Minnesota, thousands of kids are expected to walk and bicycle during events held at local schools.
The events are part of local, state and national Safe Routes to School efforts that support walking and bicycling to school year-round. Research shows that kids who walk or bicycle to school are healthier and arrive more focused and ready to learn. For example, a 15-minute walk or bicycle ride to and from school each day will help kids achieve half of their daily physical activity needs.
"Walking and bicycling to school is a great way to find time to get physically active," said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health. "The whole community benefits when more kids walk and bicycle to school."
In addition to the health benefits, research shows that kids who walk or bicycle to school have fewer behavior problems and tend to have better academic achievement.
"Healthy kids are better learners," said Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. "By encouraging children to walk and ride their bikes to school - and by modeling those activities as adults - we're helping them establish lifelong patterns of fitness that will benefit them in school and at work."
Safe Routes to School initiatives make walking and bicycling easier and safer for students. It also helps reduce congestion around the school area during drop-off and pick up-times. Educational activities teach safe walking and bicycling skills. Promotional activities such as walking school buses and bike trains create safety in numbers and help attract more people to try walking and bicycling to school. Infrastructure improvements include improving intersections, sidewalks and bicycle paths near schools.
"Walking and bicycling are important components of a complete transportation system and of Minnesota's quality of life," said Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel. "People of all ages deserve to arrive at their destinations safely, no matter what mode they choose."
Across Minnesota, Safe Routes to School is a growing movement that has more than 115 schools reaching more than 78,000 students and staff to support more active and healthier lifestyles.
Safe Routes to School Month is supported by the State Safe Routes to School Network, a coalition working to make it safe and easy for kids to walk or bicycle to school. Coalition partners include the Minnesota Departments of Health, Transportation, and Education, local public health, schools, and other interested organizations and individuals across the state, and is hosted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
MDH Active Transportation Coordinator