As residents step outside after the long winter, Healthier Somerset is working with the communities of Bound Brook, Manville and Somerville to welcome Complete Streets – a project designed to enable safe street access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets makes it easier and safer to cross the street, walk to shops and bicycle to work.
We chose to focus on “Complete Streets” because it has been a primary policy objective of Healthier Somerset since its inception in 2010. Through outreach to municipal and county officials, we have already created public and governmental awareness of the positive impact the program has on our community’s health and well-being.
All three of the selected municipalities are small walkable and bikeable communities that lend themselves to this program. They are geographically contiguous and all promote livability and ease of transportation within their municipalities. Additionally, 2 of the 3 (Bound Brook and Somerville) are located on the Raritan Valley New Jersey Transit Line and have gained Transit Oriented Development (TOD) status from New Jersey Department of Transportation, which is fostering development and walkable communities in municipalities with these designations.
One of the great resources in our towns is the convenience of local farmers markets. Farmers markets are a natural tie-in to our “Complete Streets” transportation project. Getting to the farmers market by walking or biking is a healthy activity, and those who purchase goods at the farmers market can exercise healthier eating habits. All of these activities promote healthier lifestyles and combat obesity.
As part of our program, we plan to purchase bike racks for these towns and to provide vouchers to low-income and underserved segments of our community for use at the farmers markets. Throughout the project, we will measure the number of people who attend farmers markets, the number of vouchers distributed and redeemed, the number of bike racks installed, and the number of towns that pass resolutions of support for “Complete Streets.”