Community - Active Living
Active transportation integrates physical activity into daily routines such as walking or biking to destinations such as work, grocery stores or parks. Active transportation policies and practices in community design, land use and facility access have been proven effective to increase physical activity and promote an active lifestyle.
Regional Active Transportation Plan
In November 2015, the Regional Active Transportation Plan was finalized, thus providing Benton, Sherburne, Stearns and Wright counties, along with the Regional Active Living Advisory Group (RALAG) with a five-year work plan to create a region where walking and biking is part of everyday life.
SHIP staff have been working closely with cities in Benton County to assist them in planning for the future, and creating changes that increase access to healthy foods, allow for active transportation, and reduce tobacco Use and exposure.
Foley Safe Routes to School
Working With SHIP
The City of Foley has been working closely with SHIP staff on a number of initiatives that support a healthier environment for the community. Collaboratively, the city, school district, county and city engineer, and SHIP staff have been working to complete the Transportation Alternatives Grant Application to begin implementing their pedestrian plan. This would create safer routes to school, and create connections to the downtown business district.
City of Foley SRTS
After many discussions, the city and county decided it would be to everyone's benefit to create a City of Foley SRTS committee to address a number of concerns, and increase the amount of people walking and biking in the community. On December 6th, the City of Foley adopted a resolution supporting Safe Routes to School efforts and a SRTS committee. We plan to start a SRTS Committee and leverage this resolution in the future when applying for future funding, grant applications, and working toward initiatives that support walking and biking in the community.
Rice Parks & Trails
The City of Rice is working to improve the quality of life, community and individual health by increasing opportunities to walk, bike, and play. Improvements of current conditions are necessary and there is a need, and demand from the community for additional sidewalks and trails. As part of this active living effort and with the assistance of SHIP technical assistance, the City of Rice will be hiring an experienced park, trail and active transportation planning consultant to create a Comprehensive Parks and Trails Plan. This plan has been a priority of the Rice Park Board for a couple of years, and they have finally secured funding to complete the project from the city and SHIP. This plan will support them in future funding opportunities, and give them an opportunity to create a well-connected trail and sidewalk system.
Bike Friendly Communities
After an interest survey was sent out on behalf of the regional active transportation work being done by Benton, Sherburne, Stearns and Wright County SHIP staff, the Cities of Sartell and St. Cloud expressed an interest in applying for a Bike Friendly Communities (BFC) award. SHIP staff have been working closely with city staff and across all sectors to fill out the BFC application for both cities. They plan to submit the application by the February deadline.
Benefits of Biking
Simple steps to make bicycling safe and comfortable pay huge dividends in civic, community and economic development. Given the opportunity to ride, residents enjoy dramatic health benefits, reduced congestion, increased property values and more money in their pockets to spend in the local economy. When your community is bike-friendly, tourism booms, businesses attract the best and the brightest, and governments save big on parking costs while cutting their carbon emissions.
For more information, please view the BFA Brochure (PDF).
Both Sartell and St. Cloud see the impact health has on the economic growth of their communities. The Public Health Departments of Benton, Sherburne and Stearns, and BLEND CentraCare worked closely with St. Cloud and Sartell to include health language in their comprehensive plans. The environment strongly influences the health of individuals. Similarly, the health and vitality of a community depends on that of its people.
Planning and the built environment contribute to many of the problems and solutions to improving our health. Social determinants of health include income, education, employment, housing, transportation, stress levels, access to healthy food, safe places to be physically active, exposure to environmental hazards and availability of early learning opportunities. These conditions interact to increase or decrease risk for major diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
Contributing Factors to Health
Approximately 50% of a person's health can be attributed to factors that include our environment (e.g. whether a neighborhood has networks of sidewalks, easy access to grocery stores and health care services) and our socioeconomic status which makes up 40% of a person's health. Communities that increase opportunities for regular physical activity, access to healthy food and decrease tobacco use and exposure support health and can expect economic growth. A city’s comprehensive plan can be a powerful tool in creating a culture of health in the community.