A Proven Strategy with Many Benefits
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is another proven strategy with many benefits that is being implemented all over the country and in every corner of Minnesota. Safety of children biking and walking is obviously the top priority of the program, but there are also health and academic benefits. The number of children that walk or bike to school went from 47.7% in 1970 to 12.7% in 2009. During this same period, the number of Minnesota children who are overweight or obese has skyrocketed to 27%. Overweight and obese children, on average, have lower GPAs, more school absences, and more disciplinary referrals. SRTS is helping to reverse this trend. There is also strong evidence that connects physical activity to improvements in attendance rates and student academic performance – including grades and standardized test scores.
One of BikeMN’s major efforts is the implementation of the Walk! Bike! Fun! elementary school safety curriculum. The goal is to ensure that every child grows up knowing how to safely navigate their community on foot and by bike. The program uses the train the trainer model. Many educators throughout the state have been trained to use the curriculum and community volunteers have also been trained to help with the program. MnDOT is BikeMN’s major partner and provides funding to implement WBF!
MnDOT also provides funding to schools and communities for additional programming and infrastructure. More can be found on the MnDOT Safe Routes Page. The page includes an interactive map that can show you what safe routes projects and programs have been implemented in your community.