Focusing on Health in Camden’s Waterfront South

Residents of Camden’s Waterfront South neighborhood walk and ride bicycles. They grow food in community gardens. They work with local agencies to see the construction of new parks and to push for reductions in truck traffic in residential areas. And thanks to the generous support of the ShapingNJ program, they now have a concrete plan to build on their significant successes and to connect community spaces, places where local food is grown and the Delaware River waterfront with safer active transportation routes.

Part of the "Walking Towards the Green" toolkit, this map shows where Waterfront South community members would like to see improved walking and bicycling conditions.

Part of the “Walking Towards the Green” toolkit, this map shows where Waterfront South community members would like to see improved walking and bicycling conditions.

The culmination of the ShapingNJ grant work has resulted in the creation of a toolkit entitled “Walking Towards the Green” that residents and Camden agencies and non-profits are using to make a concerted push for a healthier neighborhood. There were many significant steps leading up to this point. Here are just a few of the highlights:

By participating in the walking audit, local residents became extremely knowledgeable about design features that make walking and bicycling safer.  They were able to take what they had learned and pointed out roadway safety deficiencies, while also recommending specific solutions. Being empowered with this knowledge has led to a strong interest in ensuring that toolkit recommendations are implemented.

Even though the ShapingNJ grant period is coming to a close, Waterfront South neighbors and participants are dedicated to continuing the work that began through this process. Specifically, local residents will be focusing on improving the intersection of 4th Street, Carl Miller Boulevard and Ferry Avenue, which was found to be particularly wide and dangerous. They will also seek to have features installed on local roads that lead to this intersection to slow down motor vehicles and reduce the amount of truck traffic. Finally, project participants are assisting the Camden County Municipal Utilities authority in their efforts to create a trails loop between Phoenix Park, Liney Ditch Park and the Father Doyle Fishing Pier.

Representatives that have been part of the process of creating the toolkit will be meeting with City of Camden officials and making presentations to public safety groups, business leaders and the media, as well as seeking funding to design the improvements suggested in the toolkit. By continuing to develop relationships with agency, city and business partners, residents will move towards the goal of connecting local parks and community gardens with sidewalks and trails, helping to increase access to walking and bicycling, which will in turn give the Waterfront South neighborhood greater opportunities to incorporate exercise into residents’ daily lives and to improve the overall health of the community.

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