Posts Tagged ‘Minneapolis walking’
Thursday, January 31st, 2013
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities/Transit for Livable Communities, that originally ran in the Downtown Journal.
It’s tempting in winter to hibernate. Find a cozy spot inside to read a book. Catch up on movies you missed from last year. Tackle some indoor project, whether it’s a puzzle or learning to knit or draw or putting together model airplanes from other eras of flight.
But, there are lots of good reasons to push yourself—and any kids in your household—to get outside, even if only briefly. Not surprisingly, with the rise of computers and the internet, people are spending less time outside. Kids spend about 1/3 to 1/2 less time outside or playing sports than kids in the early 1980s. (Raise your hand if you grew up in the 1980s—were you outside much in winter?)
We also know activity is good, whatever the age. A few minutes outside in winter—fresh air, sunlight, and exercise—can do a lot to stir the spirit and the body in good ways. Unstructured play and free time “protects children’s emotional development,” says the American Academy of Pediatrics. And kids benefit from activity in several ways (according to the American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control, and California Department of Education): weight and blood pressure control; bone, muscle, and joint health; reduction in the risk of diabetes; improved psychological welfare; and better academic performance.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board throws out some strong lures for getting outside—including ice fishing! Walleye can be caught on lakes Harriet, Nokomis, Calhoun, Cedar and Lake of the Isles. If ice-skating, pond hockey, hockey, or broom ball are your thing, the daily status of each of the MPRB’s 47 ice rinks at 22 parks can be viewed online throughout the season at www.minneapolisparks.org/rinks.
Theodore Wirth’s 700-acres of urban forest offer cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snowshoeing, skijoring, cycling, and walking/running trails. Wirth Park can also set you up with gear, lessons, and a place to warm up with some hot food and drink.
For truly unstructured time and a chance to explore the world around you, a walk with your kids can be the easiest way to get outside. Here are some tips for making it a good walk.
Dress warmly. Layers are best. Make sure the layer closest to the skin wicks away moisture. Avoid cotton clothing or socks, as they can soak up perspiration and offer little warmth. Wear a waterproof coat and boots. Body heat is lost through the head, so wear a hood or hat that covers the ears. Gloves or mittens with long cuffs help keep snow out. If it’s getting toward dark, wear bright, reflective clothing, and attach blinking lights to your clothes.
Make it fun. In general, keep walks short, especially for younger kids, and/or build in warm breaks. And, everyone likes a warm reward at the end of the walk.
- If you’re out with little kids, remember: they have shorter legs than you. Go slowly and let them explore the world around them. Pretend you’re on an expedition. Study clouds or watch squirrels.
- If you’re out with kids of different ages, pick a safe space to try letting the older child lead the younger, while the younger closes his or her eyes. This can be a great way for the older kid to increase awareness and attention to others and for the younger to identify everything that he or she hears or smells. (Make sure to supervise both children yourself.)
- Remember that older kids like a destination or a goal—go see the frozen waterfall at Minnehaha Park, for instance.
Be aware. A walk is a good time to teach younger kids how to navigate safely and to remind older kids what they learned when they were little. Always walk on sidewalks; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic. Cross only at corners or in crosswalks. Look both ways, and signal your intention to cross. Always watch for traffic to ensure you are seen. A good walk is also a chance to note the safety features around you, such as curb bump outs that make crossing distances shorter, count-down timers at crosswalks to let you know how much time you have to cross, or medians in the middle of the roadway that give people walking a safe place to wait. What features in your neighborhood make it safer for walking?
Event note: If you like a good walk, don’t miss the fifth annual We Love Our President’s Walk in Northeast Minneapolis, Saturday, February 16. Walkers, bikers, even pets gather at 10:00 a.m. at Edison High School (between Washington and Monroe). The Northeast Urban 4-H Club will lead walkers up Central; along the way they will stop at designated points to share trivia about the presidents. After a stop for hoc chocolate at the Eastside Food Coop walkers will head East on 29th for a hot lunch and program featuring a trivia contest, drawing, prizes and a brief presentation.
Tags: City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation, Minneapolis walking, Northeast Minneapolis walking, Theodore Wirth Park, walking, walking with kids, We Love Our President’s Walk, winter walking
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Friday, October 26th, 2012
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Southwest Journal.
Is walking your thing? We take it for granted, but walking is far more popular as a commuting mode than bicycling. Nearly twice as many people in Minneapolis walk to work (6.7 percent) as ride bikes (3.5 percent).
Among Midwestern cities, Minneapolis ranks first for pedestrian commuters, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey. And according to Walk Score, a web site that measures the walkability of the nation’s 50 largest communities, Minneapolis ranks ninth (New York City is first). The survey also notes Minneapolis’ most walkable neighborhoods; the top three are Downtown West, Loring Park and Lowry Hill East.
I have friends who regularly walk to work in downtown Minneapolis or at the University of Minnesota – prime walking destinations. I recently met a man who takes long, cross-city walks just for recreation and to see the world up close. He takes Marshall Ave. across the Lake Street Bridge.
I used to myself walk from my job near the Metrodome to meet friends at Loring Park and it was a great after-work walk. At that old job, I walked just over a mile to and from work each day, in all seasons. I especially remember the night that the snow sparkled as I left work and the sky sparkled with stars. I hope that you have had similarly sublime walking experiences.
That said, walking has lately become far more hazardous for some pedestrians. So far this year, 23 pedestrians have been killed by vehicles in Minnesota, compared with 14 at this time a year ago. This includes the high-profile death of a 19-year-old Macalester College transfer student from France, who had been in the United States for one day, killed while attempting to cross Hamline Ave. at Grand Ave. in St. Paul.
Senseless deaths such as these helped spark the state’s first pedestrian campaign in nearly 15 years. The “Share the Road” campaign from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), now featured on billboards, bus signs and radio ads, reminds drivers to stop at crosswalks – even those which are unmarked – and look both ways before turning corners. It also reminds walkers and runners to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the road, and clearly show your intention to cross the road. Other guidelines for drivers and pedestrians include:
- Watch for pedestrians at all times; make yourself visible to drivers – Drivers need to continuously scan for pedestrians, especially when backing up and driving through parking lots. Pedestrians need to make themselves visible at all times, and stand clear of any obstacles (parked cars, buses, hedges, etc.) that impede their visibility. Cross only in well-lit areas, and wear bright and/or reflective clothing if walking at twilight or night.
- Avoid distracted and dangerous behaviors – Motorists need to put away all distractions (cell phones, make-up, food, etc.) when driving and always stop for pedestrians – even when they’re in the wrong or crossing mid-block. Similarly, pedestrians and runners need to cross only at crosswalks or intersections, always obey traffic signals, and remove headphones and stay off cell phones while crossing the road. Pedestrians who are intoxicated should exercise particular care while walking – or be escorted home by a sober companion.
You might think that motorists cause the majority of pedestrian/vehicle crashes, but according to MnDOT, the ratio is approximately 50/50. Motorists cause about half of pedestrian collisions due to failure to yield, distracted driving and inattention. Pedestrians are the cause due to ignoring signs or signals, inattention and crossing streets mid-block.
We believe many roadways themselves are becoming more pedestrian-friendly. Since 2007, through a federal grant, Bike Walk Twin Cities has been helping local cities improve their sidewalk and roadway infrastructure to provide safer and more accessible routes for pedestrians and bicyclists.
For example, road diets – the conversion of four-lane roads to three lanes, with a left-turn lane in the middle – make streets easier for pedestrians to cross. Such crossings are enhanced further when the road diet also includes curb extensions, in which the sidewalk is expanded further into the intersection. An example in Minneapolis is along 10th Ave. S.E.
Bicycle boulevards are another key safety/access improvement. These offer priority to bicyclists and walkers, as well as local motorists, on certain streets by diverting through-traffic to busier nearby arterial streets. Minneapolis examples include 40th St., Bryant Ave. S., 22nd Ave. N.E.,, and 5th St. N.E.
To learn more about the MnDOT “Share the Road” campaign, visit www.sharetheroadmn.org.
Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Name: Robin Sauerwein
Neighborhood: Audubon Park, Northeast Minneapolis
Workplace: Northrup Auditorium, University of Minnesota
Robin Sauerwein walks the walk…and buses the bus, and bikes the bike. Every day. Robin uses a combination of walking and MetroTransit buses to get to her job at the University of Minnesota’s Northrup Auditorium. On especially nice days, she rides her bicycle to work. Here’s a bit more about her routine and her advice for others who might be considering bicycling, walking and taking the bus more often.
How did you start walking to work?
My family used to own two cars. When the motor in one of them went in September, we decided not to replace it. Now, my husband has a truck for business, and I walk and take the bus to work. I didn’t have a car until I was in my 20s, so walking is natural to me.
Why did you make that choice?
I’d just rather be moving. I work in an office all day, so it feels good to be outside and moving. It gets me to think more clearly. I write, so a lot of poems and writing come to me while I’m walking. Especially now during the spring, I get to see the plants and hear the birds – those little things that you don’t always notice in a vehicle. I feel more in control of my own time; I’m not frustrated by traffic. I feel so energized and relaxed when I get home at the end of the day. I consider myself really lucky.
How far is your commute to the University of Minnesota?
It’s about four miles each way. On average, I walk about a mile each way to get to the bus. If it’s really nice, I’ll bike the whole way.
What routes do you use to get to work?
If I’m walking, I’ll take the residential streets in my neighborhood to University Avenue and walk down that to catch the bus. When I bike, I go through Dinkytown to get to University Avenue, and then I’ll bike through campus to get to Northrup Auditorium. It’s a beautiful ride through campus.
What are your limits for walking or biking to work?
If it’s really slippery out (in the winter) I’ll take the bus, but otherwise I know how to dress for the weather – lots of layers and long underwear. If it snows, I wear boots. It’s a great workout to walk in the snow.
What’s your advice to others who want to incorporate more walking and biking into their lives?
Really look at the way you’re spending your time. You may not need your car as much as you think you do. If it’s only a mile to the store, what if you walked instead of taking your car? Try walking or biking on those short trips to the store, library, bakery, and so on. Incorporate it into your current lifestyle.
Tags: Minneapolis biking, Minneapolis walking, Northeast Minneapolis biking, Northeast Minneapolis walking, Robin Sauerwein, walking to Northrup Auditorim, walking to the U of M
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Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
From your first steps as a child, you’ve known that walking is good for you. Not only does walking offer a host of health benefits, it also can provide several additional advantages – from saving you cash and enhancing your relationships to boosting your brain power and mood.
We’ve long known that walking boosts health. New research shows a significant risk reduction for developing type 2 diabetes among those who regularly walk briskly. In other studies, walking has been shown to reduce the pain of fibromyalgia, reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, and help you better manage your weight.
An 18-year study of 46,000 men and 15,000 women showed a 40% lower risk of developing a stroke among those who regularly walked. And women who walk regularly after being diagnosed with breast cancer have a 45% greater chance of survival than those who are inactive, according to a prominent oncology journal.
Walking can help you save on gym costs. On average, gym memberships run $40-$60 per person per month. The cost of a single month of gym membership could easily pay for a new pair of sturdy, comfortable walking shoes.
Walking can also help cut your medication costs, not to mention the potential side effects of many medicines. Data from the National Walkers’ Health Study found that those who took the longest weekly walks were more likely to use less medication.
Walking with someone for a half-hour – a spouse, friend, child or other family member – naturally leads to conversation. Those who regularly walk with others report higher levels of satisfaction with their personal relationships. And if you’re a dog owner, that’s a great reason to take a walk. You’ll find your role as “top dog” in your home solidified if you regularly take your four-legged friend for regular strolls.
Need a mental boost? Go for a walk! A recent study of 278 midlife African-American women showed that those who regularly walked were significantly less depressed than those who did not. Similarly, an Italian study tracked 749 older adults who had been identified as experiencing memory problems, and found that those who expended the most energy walking had a 27% lower risk of developing dementia than their less energetic counterparts.
Considering our mild winter so far in the Twin Cities – one of the 10 warmest winters on record – February is shaping up to be a great month to walk. The Winter Walkoff 2012 campaign, through the end of February, specifically urges Twin Cities residents to get outside and walk at least once a day. Those who commit to the campaign are encouraged to post about it on Twitter, at #winterwalkoff.
We’re fortunate that the Twin Cities metro area is primarily pedestrian-friendly. Of the nation’s 52 largest metropolitan areas, we are among the nation’s safest spots for pedestrians, according to Transportation for America. And indeed, three out of four Twin Cities residents keep walking year-round, according to Bike Walk Twin Cities.
Yet even those who regularly walk do not typically walk enough to fully enjoy its ample benefits. The daily walking goal cited by most health experts is 10,000 steps – about 5 miles of walking, or approximately the equivalent of exercising vigorously for 30 minutes.
Tags: #winterwalkoff, Bike Walk Move, Bike Walk Twin Cities, Joan Pasiuk, Minneapolis walking, walking for health, winter walk off, winter walking, winter walkoff
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The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Downtown Journal. Now that Nice Ride bikes are tucked away for the winter, consider using the bus for your quick trips to lunch, meetings, doctor’s appointments, or shopping. Using Metro Transit is an ideal way
The following is a post written by Bri Whitcraft, Special Projects Coordinator, Bike Walk Twin Cities. It all started with a video as inspiration and a Tweet as declaration. (My mom thought it was a joke.) Map & Route From my home in South Minneapolis, I biked to St. Paul to borrow the trailer from
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Southwest Journal. Practical, affordable and surprisingly rewarding, winter bicycling has become increasingly popular in Minneapolis, recently named one of the top five cities in the nation for winter bicycle commuting by MetaEfficient. That’s amazing when