New Ulm: It’s time to SEE people biking and walking, act SAFE, and be SMART! Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project (HONU) and the Safe Routes to School Action Team have launched a new public safety campaign called “SEE.SAFE.SMART.” Each month, look for a different safety message reminding you to be aware of and alert to people who are out walking and biking in our community — especially our community’s kids! We want to help ensure everyone’s safety on our sidewalks and streets, and encourage people to make smart decisions when encountering people walking and riding their bikes.
The campaign is part of The New Ulm Safe Routes to School Plan and sponsored by HONU. Each safety message features photos of kids and adults from New Ulm — your neighbors and friends — and all of the schools in New Ulm are participating in the campaign.
Making streets safer for everyone
Since the Safe Routes to School Program began in New Ulm, action team members have heard from parents that it simply isn’t safe for their children to walk or bike to school. In parent surveys conducted by the team, parents identified the top three barriers as: 1) the amount of traffic, 2) the speed of traffic and 3) uncontrolled intersections.
Nationwide, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of children walking and biking to school over the past several decades. In 1969, the percentage of children that walked or biked was 50 percent, while today, just 12 percent of children walk to school and 4 percent ride their bike. The prevalence of childhood obesity is directly correlated to the decreased amount of physical activity that children get today.
Action team members have also heard concerns from parents and people throughout the New Ulm community that drivers just don’t pay attention anymore, and that most everyone — whether they are walking, biking or driving — is simply not following the rules of the road. For example, it’s not unusual to see people riding their bikes against traffic, people walking in the street with traffic, or standing at an intersection for several minutes because cars don’t stop to allow people walking to cross the street.
Join us in helping improve the environment on our streets for everyone, whether they are driving, walking or riding their bicycle!