Recently, experts have been saying that obesity is a greater public health danger than hunger. Kids are not safe from this threat. The Institute of Medicine says that 17 percent of American children are obese, and that they need more exercise. We have the opportunity to make exercise easy by building kid-friendly streets right now in Minneapolis.
The Star Tribune ran a story last week about how only half of American kids are getting the recommended hour of daily activity that they need. After about twelve paragraphs about rearranging curriculum, revising disciplinary practices, and mandating activity during recess, they reveal that the solution to inactivity could be easy: "[i]t could be as simple as having kids walk or bike to school," which would not take time or resources away from other subjects.
This year, Minnesota has taken a big step toward facilitating walking and biking to school by funding the Safe Routes to School program. But it's not enough. Without a system of protected bikeways, children and new cyclists won't have safe, convenient routes on which they can learn how to ride their bikes in Minneapolis. In Minnehaha and Washington Avenues, we have a once-in-50-years opportunity to add bike infrastructure that would boost local businesses, reduce collisions, and improve public health — now and for generations to come.
If you support cycling in Minneapolis (and the health benefits that could flow to children from protected bikeways) you can do the following things:
Contact your county commissioner and city council member and let them know you support protected bikeways on Minnehaha and Washington Avenues.
Read this post by Ethan debunking the arguments against protected bikeways on Minnehaha.
Keep an eye on our blog and on our Facebook page for notice of the upcoming public meeting on Minnehaha's redesign.