Satoshi Callahan and his two siblings now have safer routes to Capitol Hill Magnet School in St. Paul thanks to their parents, a community of advocates and a program called Minnesota Safe Routes to School.
Standing on Concordia Avenue near Interstate 94, parent Ross Callahan explained the difference the program made for his children’s walk to school.
“This pedestrian bridge was recently rebuilt through SRTS, and before that, this was a terrible intersection,” he said. “So, it started with me taking a video of the kids trying to cross the street. Nobody would stop. Safe Routes to School gave us an opportunity to come together to improve this intersection so the kids could safety cross the street.”
According to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, nearly 50 percent of kids walked or bikes to school in the 1960s, compared to around 17 percent today.
“Safe Routes to School aims to change the habits of an entire generation by making it safer, easier and more comfortable for students to walk and bike to school and in daily life,” said Dave Cowan, SRTS coordinator. “Minnesota ranks third in the nation for its Safe Routes to School program. This is due in part to the way we fund our program, both with federal dollars and with state dollars.”
Safe Routes to School is a partnership between Minnesota’s departments of education, health and transportation as well as local and national partners. MnDOT has awarded more than $38 million in federal and state funds helping more than 450 Safe Routes plans and 140 infrastructure projects across the state since 2006. The majority of funding was awarded for infrastructure projects. The remainder was allocated for programs and planning that promote walkable and bikeable communities.