Conduct an audit and figure out how “bike-able” and walkable your community is with an easy Minnesota Department of Health survey. The survey can check out the walk and bike score of your neighborhood.
The Minnesota Department of Health supports local communities throughout the state to make the healthy choice the easy choice. You’re probably thinking, “What does that actually mean? And, how does it relate to bicycling?”
Well, here’s a brief case study: While growing up in a small, rural Wisconsin town (Pass your judgments now. They’re probably true.) I didn’t realize how healthy choices were built into my life. For example, on a weekly basis, my mother would ask one of my sisters and me to walk or bike up to nearby gas station to get a gallon of milk. Or, when I was a tween I biked about two miles to my first job. Of course, I wasn’t old enough to drive so my personal transportation options were limited. What I didn’t realize is that, for the most part, the community I grew up was safe and easy to walk and bike in with ample destinations to travel to and from.
As an adult, I sought out similar community characteristics when looking for a home. Currently, my family and I live in an area where there are ample destinations to walk or bike. In fact, we probably get the majority of our physical activity by literally running or wheeling errands in our neighborhood. Fortunately, we live in a place that has sidewalks and nearby bicycle facilities so we mostly feel safe traveling around. This is particularly important as we frequently travel with a stroller or bike trailer attached as a necessary appendage.
Of course, there are times when we find traveling by foot or bike in our community has barriers. There aren’t always bike facilities – traveling north or south in our area can be a real pain and to do so with a bike trailer means you’re usually taking the scenic route. This can be fine some days, but on other days, time feels more precious. And in the winter, when I walk my son to daycare, snow-covered sidewalks and curbcuts can be difficult to navigate for a relatively-able-bodied person.
The good news: there are great and easy ways for people to assess how walkable and bike-able their communities are.
The Minnesota Department of Health has worked with communities across the state to conduct walking and biking audits. Then, with our partners, we connected with residents, leaders, and local governments to identify ways that walking and biking can become the easiest and healthiest choice for the errand to grocery store, library, school or even the local diner. You can help determine how walkable and bike-able your community is.
Check out the “Let’s Go for a Walk” audit form and take a stroll or roll in your neighborhood to see how easy (or hard) it is to be active. You can also check out Walk Score to see how your neighborhood stacks up against others. Then, check out what’s happening across the state to encourage more walking and biking and make the healthy choice the easy choice for people in Minnesota on the Minnesota Department of Health website.