Minneapolis schools want more kids to walk to classby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
A new report suggests ways for the Minneapolis School District to get more students to walk to school. The aim is to get more kids exercising by walking.
St. Paul, Minn. — A consultant working for the school district and city of Minneapolis prepared the report, which notes plenty of kids already walk to school.
But if the city and district can work together to make school zones safer, the study says even more parents will be comfortable sending their children out.
Superintendent Bill Green walked along a busy road this morning with a mother and her two kids as they headed to school.
"I don't think many people living outside the neighborhood knew how busy that road was," Green noted. "Once that attention is brought to bear, it becomes and issue of the city, police and school district figuring out how to make that corridor safer for kids."
Green says the initiative, called "Safe Routes to School," relies on the community keeping an eye out for children; the school identifying areas of improvements; and the city helping provide services the district otherwise might not.
For example, a neighbor might notice children crossing a busy street where there's no crosswalk, which could lead to the district asking the city for a crosswalk there, as well as more police enforcement when it's installed.
"Parents who don't want their children to take the bus often drive them to school, creating more congestion and air pollution," the report notes. "This widespread dependence on busing and driving has created an environment that says walking and biking are not possible or supported."
Other recommendations include increasing enforcement of crosswalk laws and speed limits near schools; teaching bike and traffic safety to students; and even creating "car-free zones" around schools.
The report also highlights small changes. The number of bike-riding students at South High School quintupled with one action: The school installed new bike racks.