September 10, 2015
Minnesota is on pace with U.S. Surgeon General’s call for walkable communities
MnDOT, Department of Health step up with statewide pedestrian plan
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota is well positioned to respond to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy’s call Sept. 9 to promote health through walking and walkable communities.
Vivek’s announcement articulates the health benefits of walking while addressing the fact that many communities lack safe and convenient places for individuals to walk or wheelchair roll. The Surgeon General called on community planners and local leaders to create more areas for walking and wheelchair rolling and to prioritize the development of safe routes for children to get to and from schools.
Minnesota is already taking action. The Minnesota departments of transportation and health recently entered an interagency agreement to promote health and are working on the state’s first statewide pedestrian plan.
“The Surgeon General’s call to action about walking and walkable communities affirms the importance of developing an accessible walking environment,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “We look forward to creating the first pedestrian plan in the state that will identify ways we can make communities more safe and convenient to walk and roll.”
MnDOT and MDH are gathering input from the public to help establish the vision, goals and recommendations for the pedestrian system plan. The plan will help develop new projects, policies and programs; a draft plan is expected in 2016.
“Making our communities walkable is a critical health issue,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “Investing in a pedestrian plan that brings together transportation officials, city planners, parks, businesses and health officials will result in safer environments for pedestrians and health benefits for generations to come.”
The agencies are hosting focus groups, listening sessions, community gatherings and online engagement activities to gather public input for the statewide pedestrian plan.
More information about the Minnesota project, online activities and the in-person engagement schedule is available at www.minnesotawalks.org. For more information, contact Jasna.Hadzic@state.mn.us or Amber.Dallman@state.mn.us.
To read the Surgeon General’s Call to Action and learn how to promote walking and walkable communities, visit www.surgeongeneral.gov.
The call to action suggests that these designs should include sidewalks, curb cuts, crosswalks, safe crossings for the visually impaired and more green spaces. The Surgeon General further calls on city managers, law enforcement and community and public health leaders to address safety concerns by better maintaining public spaces, working with residents to promote a shared sense of community ownership, ensuring proper street lighting and fostering neighborhood watch programs.
Scott Smith (Health)
Sue Roe (Transportation)