Encourage more kids to walk and bike to school

Jill Mazullo
by Jill Mazullo | Apr 09, 2010
1 read | 1 Comment

Summary:

I would like to bring walkability expert Dan Burden to the Twin Cities to assess the safety of Lexington Parkway, a busy road many students must cross. Walking and biking to school has declined dramatically since the 1960s, yet it's an easy way for young people to get daily exercise and combat obesity. Safety in crossing busy roads is one barrier that can be overcome to encourage more parents to allow their children to walk to school.

Recently a student at Central High School died at the intersection of Lexington and Selby. This is an intersection with a street light, presumably safer to cross than other cross-streets along Lexington without stop signs or street lights. Like all parents and neighbors, I am stunned by this senseless tragedy and worried about being able to allow my young kids to walk to their public elementary school across Lexington.

I would like to develop a toolkit for schools that gathers existing national resources on creating safe routes to school, and tailor it for Minneapolis and St. Paul schools. I would start with Lexington Parkway between 1-94 and Summit Avenue as the initial study area to better understand what is not working and why it's not safe. By inviting national speaker Dan Burden to lead a walking tour and discussion of the area for students and parents, together we can pinpoint strategies to improve the street to make it safer for all users. A video of the tour and an interview with Burden could be included in the toolkit. Given Minnesota's current consideration of Complete Streets legislation, now is a good time to figure out the specific design factors that create safe crossings for our K-12 students.

First Name

Jill

Last Name

Mazullo

About You

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First Name

Jill

Last Name

Mazullo

Country

United States, MN, Ramsey County

City

St. Paul

Country

United States, MN, Ramsey County

City

St. Paul

About You

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About Your Organization

Organization Name

1000 Friends of Minnesota

Organization Website

Organization Phone

651-312-1000

Organization Address

Your idea

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Name your idea

Encourage more kids to walk and bike to school

Describe your idea

I would like to bring walkability expert Dan Burden to the Twin Cities to assess the safety of Lexington Parkway, a busy road many students must cross. Walking and biking to school has declined dramatically since the 1960s, yet it's an easy way for young people to get daily exercise and combat obesity. Safety in crossing busy roads is one barrier that can be overcome to encourage more parents to allow their children to walk to school.
Recently a student at Central High School died at the intersection of Lexington and Selby. This is an intersection with a street light, presumably safer to cross than other cross-streets along Lexington without stop signs or street lights. Like all parents and neighbors, I am stunned by this senseless tragedy and worried about being able to allow my young kids to walk to their public elementary school across Lexington.
I would like to develop a toolkit for schools that gathers existing national resources on creating safe routes to school, and tailor it for Minneapolis and St. Paul schools. I would start with Lexington Parkway between 1-94 and Summit Avenue as the initial study area to better understand what is not working and why it's not safe. By inviting national speaker Dan Burden to lead a walking tour and discussion of the area for students and parents, together we can pinpoint strategies to improve the street to make it safer for all users. A video of the tour and an interview with Burden could be included in the toolkit. Given Minnesota's current consideration of Complete Streets legislation, now is a good time to figure out the specific design factors that create safe crossings for our K-12 students.

How do you define your "community"?

I live in the Lex-Ham neighborhood, and am interested in the walkable neighborhoods surrounding J.J. Hill elementary school (preK-6) and Central High School.

Tell us how you think the issue of obesity is affecting your community

I am concerned by the rising rates of obesity among young people due to poor diets, extended time before television, computers and other media, and lack of exercise. The fact that we have had to change the name of adult onset diabetes to Type II diabetes to acknowledge the many children now suffering from it is astonishing. Adults must take responsibility for providing their families with healthy food choices and encouraging active lifestyles. Walking or biking to school is an easy way to introduce healthy habits that will serve children through their lives.

Why should your idea be selected?

I think that many parents wish their children walked to school, but haven't found a way to make it happen. Even when their school is less than a mile away, excuses abound -- dangers crossing busy streets, concern about strangers, and the extra few minutes walking requires. Think about how many of us walked to school as kids. I know I did, and I crossed a busy street, but it wasn't nearly as wide as Lexington Parkway, the obstacle my children and many others face. Let's work together to improve signage, identify intersections that need stop signs, paint crosswalks and find other more creative ways to make safer routes to school for Twin Cities kids. And I think it's a safe bet that the parents will start walking more too!

hayworth structure said: Some countries exercise that kind of habit like in Japan where kids walk all their way to school and if capable of biking, ride a bike. ... about this Competition Entry. - 2001 days ago read more >

Jill Mazullo updated this Competition Entry. - 3424 days ago

Jill Mazullo submitted this idea. - 3425 days ago