Blue Cross Helps Communities Envision Their Streets from a New Perspective

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Blue Cross Helps Communities Envision Their Streets from a New Perspective

May 07, 2013

Financial and technical support from the Center for Prevention will transform eleven communities’ streets into avenues for active transportation during Open Streets events

EAGAN, MINN. (May 7, 2013) – This summer, eleven communities will have the opportunity to see their streets from a new perspective. The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) is providing financial and technical assistance for 15 Open Streets events – to inspire people to include physical activity in their daily routines – and encourage cities to adopt policies and consider transportation options that support active living.

During Open Streets events, roads are temporarily closed to vehicle traffic to allow residents, including those who aren’t regularly physically active, to socialize with their neighbors, have fun and shop in a safe, car-free environment. The events also are designed to visibly demonstrate how important it is to make active modes of transportation easy to choose and readily accessible to all.

“Blue Cross is proud to support a growing Open Streets movement in Minnesota, as a way to encourage healthier, more active lifestyles,” said Janelle Waldock, director of the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross. “Open Streets events provide an amazing opportunity for people to interact with their neighbors, support local businesses and see their communities from a new perspective. We hope everyone will participate in their local event and enjoy some active fun!”

This year’s Open Streets events include:
June 1 – Albert Lea: organized by the City of Albert Lea
June 8 – Grand Rapids: organized by Itasca County Family YMCA and Get Fit Itasca
June 23 – Minneapolis (Lyndale Avenue): organized by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition*
July 13 – Buffalo: organized by Buffalo Hanover Montrose Community Education
July 14 – Moorhead (event 1): organized by Clay County Public Health and Active in Moorhead
July 23 – Dilworth: organized by the City of Dilworth Park Board
July 28 – Minneapolis (Central Avenue): organized by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition*
Aug. 11 – Minneapolis (Minnehaha Avenue): organized by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition*
Aug. 25: – Moorhead (event 2): organized by Clay County Public Health and Active in Moorhead
Sept. 15 – Eagan: organized by the City of Eagan
Sept. 15 – Saint Paul: organized by the City of Saint Paul and MOD
Sept. 15 – Richfield: organized by the City of Richfield and Penn Central
Sept. 21 – Brooklyn Park: organized by African Career Education & Resource Inc., Brooklyn Park Parks & Recreation Department, Hennepin County and the Liberian Women’s Initiatives-Minnesota
Sept. 21 – Luverne: organized by the Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce
Sept. 21 – Minneapolis (Lowry Avenue): organized by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition*

*Minneapolis was also one of 10 cities nationwide selected to receive a $50,000 grant from the Partnership for a Healthier America and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, as part of their “Play Streets” initiative.

Open Streets events, sometimes known as “ciclovias,” originated in South America. The first Blue Cross supported event was held in the Fargo Moorhead area in 2010; Minneapolis joined in 2011 and seven communities participated in 2012. This trend has been seen across the United States, where similar events are growing in popularity as communities recognize the importance of creating physical environments that support active living and healthy choices.

In addition to demonstrating how to make active living easier and more accessible, Open Streets events also help residents feel a greater connection to their community, support their local businesses and gain an understanding of how local policies and local infrastructure can be improved to support the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists.

Besides offering an opportunity to enjoy automobile-free streets, Open Streets participants typically enjoy activities such as aerobics, yoga or Zumba lessons; classes on bike safety and repair; healthy eating and cooking exhibits; an opportunity to shop at local merchants; and other entertainment.

About the Center for Prevention
The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota delivers on Blue Cross’ long-term commitment to improve the health of all Minnesotans by tackling the leading root causes of preventable death and disease: tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating. Funded through proceeds from Blue Cross’ historic lawsuit against the tobacco industry, we collaborate with organizations statewide to help build vibrant communities where healthy choices are easier and more accessible.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota’s first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go to bluecrossmn.com to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

For more information:
Stacy Housman
Communications | Center for Prevention
651-662-1415
stacy_m_housman@bluecrossmn.com