Cottonwood, Minnesota: Making it Safer to Walk to School


Lakeview School is the local kindergarten through twelfth grade school in the town of Cottonwood, MN. Cottonwood Lake separates the school and the town, and the students must walk around the lake and along a busy country road to walk or bicycle to school. The combination of the lake and the busy road make it difficult and unsafe for the children to walk to school, resulting in about 25 students walking or bicycling each day.

In 2008, the town of Cottonwood received $87,575 in Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funds from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. $3,000 of the funds will be used for educational and promotional activities, and the remaining money will be used to construct a path around the lake.


The education component of the Lakeview Elementary SRTS program will consist of student activities that teach bicycle and pedestrian safety. Students from all grade levels will take part in age-appropriate activities that promote pedestrian, bicycle and traffic safety. Physical education teachers also will incorporate educational activities into their lessons. $84,575 of the funds will be used by the town to cover some of the expenses of constructing an asphalt pedestrian and bicycle trail. The city has raised an additional $13,600 to supplement some of the path’s cost. The trail will connect Lakeview Elementary to a park on the east shore of Cottonwood Lake. At the beginning of summer 2008, the town will start taking bids from contractors on the construction of the path. Construction is anticipated to begin at the end of the summer and to be completed by the end of the two year grant period. Cottonwood also will promote the trail after its construction is complete. In the weeks before and after the completion of the path, fliers containing safety tips and promotional messages will be mailed to residents. Upon its completion, the town will hold a grand opening ceremony.


A recent survey of Cottonwood residents revealed that 25 percent of residents walk or bicycle now for recreational activity. Ninety percent of people, however, said they would use the path once it is constructed.


Charlie Seipel
Phone: (507) 423-6488