April 5, 2017
Minnesota Walks provides framework for making walking safer, more convenient across the state
Between 2014 and 2015, Minnesota saw an alarming 150 percent increase (see the Data Brief (PDF)) in traffic-related pedestrian fatalities – from 16 to 40 deaths – raising concern among transportation and public health officials.
Pedestrian safety is one issue the Minnesota departments of health and transportation are addressing with Minnesota Walks, the first statewide pedestrian planning framework in the country that recognizes health and walking as priorities in transportation planning.
“We want to help communities use Minnesota Walks to improve their walking environments,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “Taking action together to build a culture of walking and rolling, and making sure the infrastructure supports that culture is the surest path to reducing pedestrian fatalities and injuries in the state.”
This framework is intended to guide planning, decision-making and collaboration for government agencies, organizations, policymakers, and public and private entities across the state.
“Supporting change in our built environments will ensure the conditions that give everyone the opportunity to be healthy,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “While the American Public Health Association is wrapping up its 1 Billion Steps Challenge during National Public Health Week, we want communities to continue support for walking and to use Minnesota Walks as a tool to address barriers that make walking and rolling difficult.”
Minnesota Walks was developed through a community engagement process that included talking with more than 6,000 people across the state. While other states have pedestrian plans, this is the first one in the nation that includes health as a priority. The plan identifies action items to solve the challenges of walking at the local, regional and state levels.
Across Minnesota, Statewide Health Improvement Partnership grantees will use Minnesota Walks to showcase state support and advance ways to make walking easier.
The document includes nearly 100 strategies for local partners to use to improve walking in their community, moving them beyond sidewalks, crosswalks and walking routes as primary strategies. The tool also highlights the needs of some priority populations that would see better health outcomes by implementing strategies.
Solutions range from increasing community engagement in street reconstruction projects to improving pedestrian facilities for all including those with mobility limitations, seniors, children and people who may face barriers to walking. Many strategies help inform design principles that support a pedestrian friendly environment that makes the transportation system better connected and safer for all users including those who take transit, bicyclists and motorists.
Minnesota Walks is online at www.minnesotawalks.org.
MnDOT Communications Office