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School Resource Officer Beau Shroyer walked kids to school last year as part of International Walk to School Day on October 6.

Step in the right direction

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It's time to park the gas guzzlers and strap on your walking shoes.

Regional organization PartnerSHIP 4 Health is picking up the pace with efforts to promote its second annual Bike/Walk to School/Work Week, set to go April 30 through May 7.

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"Our goal is to fight the two biggest preventable causes of chronic disease, one being tobacco and the other obesity," said SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Program ) Active Living Planner Patrick Hollister.

Hollister says technically the idea is for people to opt out of vehicle transportation to either bike or walk to work or school.

"Whether your goal is to stay physically active or save money due to the high cost of gasoline, this week presents a great opportunity for people of all ages to develop some great active living habits that can last a lifetime," Hollister says.

But not everybody lives close enough to walk or ride bike to school or work, so event organizers encourage people to take a break during that time to go on a walk or ride.

"That counts, as far as we're concerned, because the point is to get out and move," Hollister said.

The event is being recognized in Detroit Lakes, Dilworth, Perham, and Breckenridge.

In fact, Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk read a proclamation at Tuesday's City Council meeting, declaring April 30 through May 7 "Bike/Walk to School/Work Week."

Hollister says the event will be different from last year in three ways.

"We had it in August last year, but some of the feedback we got was that people suggested having it earlier in the biking season," said Hollister.

"Others wanted us to add 'or to school' because last year it was only to work, and also this year we're partnering with the DLCCC, and they're helping to promote it more."

Hollister says bikers and walkers who live, work or attend school in Detroit Lakes are eligible to register and win a prize. You can do so by logging on to www.bikewalkweek.eventbrite.com.

Detroit Lakes and Perham will also be holding a Bike Rodeo in conjunction with Bike/Walk Week. "We're going to be teaching kids and their parents about bike safety and rules of the road," said Hollister.

Midwest Bank is donating four new bikes (two boy bikes, two girl bikes) to be given away in random drawings during the rodeo.

The rodeo will be held April 30 at the Detroit Lakes High School parking lot from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. if the weather is nice. If it's raining, it will be moved to the ice arena.

Event organizers say the only thing kids need to bring is their bikes and their helmets.

Hollister is hoping the enthusiasm for walking and biking generated during this week will carry on into the following months.

"Detroit Lakes has such a great area for this, and I know county and city leaders are working to make it even better," said Hollister.

Community Development Director Larry Remmen says there is always something in the works for improving bike and walking trails.

"We've been working with the DNR to get an extension to the Heartland Trail Area. That's a trail system over by the Park Rapids area that we want to continue into Detroit Lakes and eventually to Moorhead."

Remmen says the city is also working on a federal recreational bike trail grant that would be used to build a trail by McKinnley Avenue that would connect to both the Highway 10 trail and the Essentia Health Trail.

Remmen says another grant, called the DNR Local Trails Connection grant will help construct a bike trail through the city park, which would connect to the trail going up to Lincoln Avenue.

That would then also connect with the Essentia Health Trail, which Remmen says would help bring people downtown.

"These bike trails are known to encourage economic development," said Remmen, adding, "We think it would be great to have Detroit Lakes be a place where you don't just grow up in, but can grow old in."

For more information on Bike/Walk Week, log on to Facebook and search for PartnerSHIP 4 Health.

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