from Active Living Across Minnesota with SHIP -MDH
How can a community increase biking and walking and along the way make the area they live or work safer and more enjoyable?
One effective way is through a “Complete Streets” policy and that is exactly what Minnesota's southwest's Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) is working toward, one city at a time. “We want to provide a safe way for people to get from one end of town to the other, whether that’s by bike, on foot or even in a wheelchair,” says Jeff Moberg of S.W. SHIP.
The Complete Streets concept is simple: Streets ought to be for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper. That doesn’t mean there will be bike paths on freeways, but it can mean there is a way to get from here to there for everyone ages eight to eighty.
It has been a process here for Pipestone. Key to success was working with Pipestone Active Living, a strong nonprofit dedicated to encouraging walking and biking in this city of 4,317. “this partnership was crucial to this effort. Many hands make light--or at least lighter-work,” says SHIP Coordinator, Carol Biren.
First, as a demonstration project prior to the complete streets policy being passed, new bike paths in Pipestone were striped around town. They were a hit, drawing local and state-wide attention.
From that experience, community members could see that Complete Streets just made sense. Since then, a new lit crosswalk was installed across a highway connecting the school and the swimming pool; and downtown - meaning kids and everyone else will be safer.
Next steps for S.W. SHIP, Jeff Moberg is talking with concerned citizens in the cities of Luverne and Worthington. “The bike trail system is catching on, and more and more people are starting to use them,” said Moberg. All of which means a more active and safer community for all.
In its first three years, Minnesota's Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) helped 293 cities take steps to improve walk-ability and bike-ability in their communities.