WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—Minnesota is taking a leadership role in a national effort to make it possible for kids to walk and bike to school.
The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) National Partnership will expand its network to encompass 19 states, including Minnesota. The project aims to increase physical activity among children by building walkways and bike paths and eliminating safety hazards that prevent children from walking and biking to school.
“Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the United States. In 1980, 6 percent of children were obese; today, it’s 17 percent. This is leading to serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease,” Oberstar said. “The Safe Routes to School program is giving us the opportunity to change the habits of an entire generation to ensure that healthy children grow to be healthy adults.”
Oberstar is the primary author of the Safe Routes to School law that has invested over $500 million in bike paths and walkways nationwide, and more than 6,300 school districts are participating in the program.
The SRTS partnership establishes a bike coordinator in each of the 19 participating states. That person will be tasked with assisting government agencies, non-profits and policy makers in their efforts to get children to walk and bike to school. Funding for the SRTS Minnesota bike coordinator will come from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The partnership will also research state policies to identify the best practices and evaluate the progress of SRTS programs.
“I am proud to see that Minnesota has joined this national effort and is taking a leadership role in the Safe Routes to School National Partnership,” Oberstar said. “There is no more important job than ensuring that our children are safe and healthy.”