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Get out and get moving

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It can be hard to tell when looking at traffic volumes along Main Street in the afternoon, but Red Wing has a lot to offer for walkers.

The downtown area alone has several walking paths of varying length and difficulty that are full of scenic views and historic landmarks. And accessing them could not be easier — all a person needs to do is open their front door.

That is the concept behind the first wave of a new campaign by Live Healthy Red Wing. Dubbed Open Your Front Door, it combines new tools — such as maps and signs — with neighborhood outreach to promote an active and healthy culture in the Red Wing community.

The initiative encourages all forms of activity, including running, hiking, biking and just playing outside; but, for now, the focus is on walking.

“As fall colors are coming in, we think it’s a good time to get people out walking again,” LHRW Coordinator Michelle Leise said.

The organization collaborated with local groups and area citizens to develop a downtown walking map, which has been rolling out to nearby businesses and community centers.

“Some of the walking loops are very familiar, like Bay Point Park,” Leise said. “But what we’ve done is to let people know where these loops are and give them ideas.”

The downtown map, fashioned by local graphic designer Alyssa Riegelman, identifies six walking routes with details including total mileage and estimated completion times depending on exertion. For instance, the two-mile Bay Point loop is listed as a 40-minute relaxed walk or 30-minute brisk walk.

Flipping over the downtown map reveals an expanded map with additional loops at Colvill Park, the Anderson Center and more.

The routes give people options, whether they are looking for a leisurely stroll or a short trot on their lunch break, Leise said.

The maps also show the location of nearby parks and amenities, as well as potentially challenging inclines and stairs along each path.

The downtown map showcases Red Wing’s historic roots as well, said Brian Peterson, city planning director and LHRW committee member. “We have such terrific history here.”

Two of the routes pass the Goodhue County History Center and historic houses on Third and Fourth streets.

In the coming weeks, LHRW will work with residents to develop additional maps in Charleston Crest, Hallquist and the Old Fairgrounds neighborhoods.

“Our group is very interested in neighborhoods, and getting that neighborhood feel back,” Leise said. The idea is that when people spend more time outside, they feel safer and more connected.

“That’s the kind of place where people want to live, and that’s the kind of Red Wing we want to continue building,” she added.

Funding for the initiative comes in part from a contract with the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. LHRW, which was one of nine organizations selected for contracts across the state, will use the support to make Red Wing friendlier for walking and biking.

LHRW also is using a grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School assistance program to expand Open Your Front Door to area schools.

Maps for walking and biking to school will be available starting early next year for Sunnyside and Twin Bluffs schools, Leise said.

LHRW is a collaborative effort among area businesses, schools, government agencies and non-profit organizations, including Red Wing Shoe Co., Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing and Red Wing Family YMCA.

The group’s goal is to promote nutrition and physical activity in the community through education, programs and public policy. Past projects include Memorial Park renovations and creation of the Friends of the Bluffs organization.

“We talk in our committee about nudging people to make healthy choices and stay active,” said Dave Borgen, the LHRW representative from Red Wing Community Recreation.

Building off that idea, the Open Your Front Door initiative shows the breadth of opportunities for physical activity available in Red Wing, regardless of age and interests, he added. “It’s for all of us.”

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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