Active Living Hennepin County - December Newsletter

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Active Living Hennepin County is a partnership of cities, businesses and nonprofits working together to make the active choice (walking, biking, and taking public transit) the easy choice by integrating health with land use and transportation decision-making. Health begins in the places where we live, learn, work, and play.Visit Active Living to learn more.


Karen Nikolai
Healthy Community Planning Manager

Laura Fredrick-Wang
Healthy Community Planning Analyst

Nadine Chalmers
Active Living Planner

Over 100 residents graduate earn-a-bike and learn-to-ride classes

Over 100 residents in Hopkins, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, and St. Louis Park took part in a series of free earn-a-bike and learn-to-ride classes in 2015. Participants in the earn-a-bike program learned basic bike repair skills, gained exposure to bike safety, worked together as a team to repair bikes, and got a bike to keep at the end of the program. Learn-to-ride classes engaged adults who never learned to ride a bike, or who had learned but lost the basic techniques of riding a bicycle. 

These classes were funded by Active Living Hennepin County (through the SHIP program) and held by the nonprofit Cycles for Change, with the overarching goal of increasing bike access and education in communities of color and low to moderate income communities. One exciting outcome is that earn-a-bike graduates in Hopkins have formed a bike club and have continued to ride together and to discuss important issues about biking and bike safety in their city. 


Earn-a-bike class in St Louis Park

Robbinsdale PD focuses on pedestrian safety


This fall, the Robbinsdale Police Department conducted targeted education and enforcement around the state law requiring people driving cars to stop for people at crosswalks. A plain clothes officer attempted to cross at a crosswalk and drivers who failed to yield were pulled over and educated about the requirement to stop for people crossing the street. Some people who did stop for the pedestrian in the crosswalk were also pulled over and given $25 gas cards to reinforce this behavior. Captain Patrick Foley of the Robbinsdale Police Department said that the community was overwhelmingly supportive of more attention being paid to the safety of people walking and biking. “Community members noted that crosswalk violation enforcement was a priority for them thanks to concerns about their own safety and also the safety of their neighbors while on bicycle or foot,” said Captain Foley. This effort was funded through the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP).  

Hennepin County will grow fruit trees for public spaces


Hennepin County is growing 500 trees in its nursery at the Adult Corrections Facility in Plymouth. These trees will be used to replace canopy trees that will be lost to the Emerald Ash Borer. Soon, fruit trees will be added to the nursery. With funding from the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Hennepin County’s Environment and Energy department purchased 50 trees for the nursery which, once they are mature, will be replanted in the community. Fruit from the apple, plum, and pear trees will be harvested and made available through food banks, community kitchens, or for other public use. 

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Take the MN Urban Agriculture Survey

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) must report to the legislature by this coming January on a proposal to “effectively and efficiently promote urban agriculture in Minnesota cities.” Some aspects of urban agriculture pertain to comprehensive plans and land-use controls, so gaining perspectives of planning professionals and citizen planners is important to the MDA. A short survey may be completed online at Print surveys will also be available in English, Hmong, and Spanish. Please complete the survey by December 31, 2015, and help spread the word to others who may be interested.

Hennepin County named Silver level ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’


Last month, Hennepin County became the first county in Minnesota to receive a Silver “Bicycle Friendly Community” distinction from the League of American Bicyclists. No other standalone county in the nation has received a higher status. The five levels of Bicycle Friendly Community awards- Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze- are awarded to communities that provide safe, comfortable and convenient places to bike, according to the League of American Bicyclists. This award acknowledges Hennepin County’s progress throughout the past decades in developing a robust bicycle network. The silver award will remain in effect for four years, and Hennepin County is aiming even higher for its next opportunity to apply for the award.

Health Impact Assessment grant available from Minnesota Department of Health


The Minnesota Department of Health is offering up to $30,000 to an organization for a rapid Health Impact Assessment (HIA) on a built environment policy/plan. HIA provide information and recommendations to help policy makers consider health outcomes in decision making. For more information, click here.

Tips on biking in the winter

Every season brings new joys and challenges to biking. Many people ride their bikes through the winter, but you do need to be prepared. Following are a few tips that can keep you moving comfortably through the winter:

  • Take it slow on snow and ice.
  • Studded tires provide extra grip in icy conditions.
  • Use lights, reflectors and reflective clothing to keep you visible in the dark months.
  • Biking generates a lot of body heat — wear layers. You should be a little chilly as you start your ride. You’ll warm up within few blocks and you’ll want to avoid overheating.
  • Your fingers, toes, nose and ears are most prone to getting cold. Wear gloves, good non-cotton socks and a hat. If it’s really cold or you’re sensitive to cold, consider a scarf, muffler, balaclava or ski goggles.
  • Clean and lubricate your chain more frequently to prevent excessive wear. Talk to your local bike shop about getting a lubricant for winter biking.
  • There is no shame in walking your bike sometimes.
  • Combine your bike trip with transit to extend your range and increase your comfort. Every Metro Transit bus and train is equipped to carry bikes.

Twin Cities host Winter Cycling Congress


The Winter Cycling Congress will be held February 2-4, 2016, in Minneapolis and St Paul. This is the fourth annual Winter Cycling Congress and the first time it has been held in the United States (previously, it has been in the Netherlands, Finland, and Canada). The three day conference provides an opportunity for planners, engineers, public health practitioners, advocates, tourism officials, bloggers, journalists, and others to come together to share information about making it easy and fun to ride a bike in the winter. To learn more, go to