Case Studies

Eagan: Safe Routes to School

Eagan, MN, is a suburb from Minneapolis–Saint Paul and its Red Pine Elementary serves 950 children from the town and several surrounding farming communities. Eagan has a network of sidewalks and crosswalks in the neighborhoods around school, providing safe infrastructure for walking and bicycling.

In spite of these safe facilities, many parents were in the habit of driving their children to school—resulting in significant traffic backups that often extended a quarter-mile from the school and onto a nearby highway. Red Pine Elementary principal realized that Safe Routes to School education and encouragement activities were necessary to shift some of these car trips to walking and bicycling.

With a small $10,000 Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure award, the school implemented a comprehensive encouragement and education strategy. The school first produced a Safe Routes to School map to identify sidewalks, crosswalks, school patrols, and safer walking routes. Children in adjacent neighborhoods were invited to join walking school buses. Drop-off zones were added at the beginning of the walking-school-bus routes to allow children from farther away to join the walking school bus and reduce traffic at the school. The school implemented these provisions as one of their initiatives to increase health and physical activity—in addition to incentives to walk and run at recess, fitness fairs on the weekends, and bicycle donations to low- income children.

With this comprehensive approach, Red Pine Elementary more than doubled the number of children regularly walking and bicycling to school—from 75 to 200 children. The number of cars dropping children off at school declined from 100 cars to about 40 cars—nearly eliminating traffic backups around the school.

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.